Oh, the Internet. One of the most world-changing inventions of the past century, perhaps even in all of human history. Never before has everything been so available in so little effort for so low a cost. Research, communication, gaming, and even dating–all of these things once required you to leave your house, but now you can do all of these things from the comfort of your own home.
But as a result, the Internet can become an addictive force–a timesink that makes you look up at one moment and wonder where your life has gone. The Internet can also be stressful, what with emails flying around all day and constant reminders of the work you still have left to do. With the good comes the bad.
So when the Internet stops being something that supplements your life and makes it easier, perhaps the best course of action is to take a break from it entirely. If you’re reading this, chances are that you use the Internet regularly, but hear me out. Try taking a break from the Internet, whether it’s for 24 hours or 1 week or 6 months. Here are some of the benefits that you may be able to reap from doing so.
Have you ever heard of “popcorn brain”? It’s a recent phenomenon that describes when a brain becomes so accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking that it becomes more difficult to live life offline where things “pop” at a much slower rate. You may know this as “novelty addiction.”
Try this. Visit Do Nothing For 2 Minutes and do exactly as the website says: sit still and do absolutely nothing for 2 minutes. According to the website’s creator, the average time on site is 58 seconds. Can you make it all the way to 2 minutes? If you can’t, then you may suffer from popcorn brain. The urge to always be doing something.
Try taking a break from the Internet. Allow your mind to reset and rediscover the value of being still. When you come back, I guarantee that your sense of focus and contentment will be greater than before.
When you browse the Internet, do you sit in the recommended position? That is, with your neck and shoulders straight, wrists in line with your forearms, gentle mouse grip and key touches, feet flat on the floor, with regular rest breaks? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding NO.
In fact, as you spend more and more time on the Internet, your posture tends to get worse and worse unless you consciously keep it in mind to sit properly. If you do this day in and day out, you’ll end up developing physical discomforts and pains in the coming years (if you haven’t already). Plus, extended Internet usage implies extended computer usage, and that could mean excessive strain on your eyes.
By taking a break from the Internet, and the computer, you’ll give your body some time to recuperate and realign itself–that is, as long as you don’t replace the Internet with television or something similar.
More Time For Activities
How much time have you wasted on the Internet after being sucked into an endless vortex of cat pictures, YouTube videos, and other such novelties? A lot, I’m betting. They say it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice in a field to become an expert. By now, it’s probably that we’re all experts on the Internet.
Now imagine if you could take all of that Internet time and pour it into something else. Something you enjoy doing but always pushed back for one reason or another. Something new that you’d like to learn but never had the time to invest. How much of a master would you be by now?
Take an extended break from the Internet and go learn some new skills. Discover new hobbies. Read through that pile of books building up on your Kindle. Hit the gym and burn off those extra pounds. You’ll thank yourself later.
More Time For Relationships
The strange thing about the Internet is that its inception has improved world communications a hundred times over, yet we’re beginning to falter in our real-life relationships. I was recently out with some friends and, at one point, everyone had their phones whipped out for an extended time. In some ways, the Internet has made us far more asocial.
Have you ever declined an invite to go out and have fun all because you’d rather stay home and bum around? Not that there’s anything wrong with that–unless it becomes a controlling factor in your life. When sociality goes flying out the window, it may be time to consider taking a break from the Internet.
Catch Up On Sleep
Have you ever sat down at the computer at 9pm with the intention of sleeping at 10pm, only to look up from your computer screen and see that it’s 2am? Of course you have. Even the most disciplined and self-controlled Internet user has experienced the “Oh crap, I need to get to sleep” syndrome.
If you have a terrible sleeping pattern because of the inordinate amount of time you spend online, then perhaps you should take a break and get that sorted out. A proper sleeping schedule will work wonders for your body, resulting in more energy and less drowsiness. Wake up with the sun and enjoy the sunrise for a change.
The Internet is a great thing, but like all things, it is best in moderation. Internet addiction is a very real thing and it can be hard to spot before it has a controlling grip on your life. If taking a break from the Internet is an idea that makes you quake in the knees and shrivel up in a ball of sweat, then addiction is a real possibility.
Our very own Justin Pot will soon be publishing a featured piece on media consumption and its consequences, including the problem of novelty addiction. It will include interviews with some figures and experts in the field, so keep watch for it. I promise it will be interesting and eye opening.