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Too Much Internet

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One of my five resolutions for the new year is to only use the internet for one hour per day. I chose this because, for too many days since my school years, I lose myself in loading several different webpages in a nonstop consumption of media. I wondered if it was having an impact on my mental well-being, and after last night I think that's definitely the case. I've been saving the last two hours of the evening for some reading, writing or anything else that doesn't involve sitting in front of the computer. However, last night I fell into my old habit and, once I went to bed, I couldn't fall asleep as I was thinking too much about several different things. Not deep thoughts, but buzzwords in a sort of ethereal cloud, related to the news and videos I watched. I was even a bit anxious, because I couldn't turn off my thoughts and I couldn't conduct them to a conclusion.

 

I know that this constant need for new input is happening to other people my age, it's why me and so many of us grab the smartphone without reason. I wonder if a similar issue of anxiety, or inability to fall asleep, is happening to others.

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I think it's quite well-documented now that too much web use, especially before bedtime, isn't very good, so you're wise to try to cut back.  I never try to be online later than 9.30, and I'm not on it very often in the evening anyway as I'm at a screen all day, but sometimes at the weekend if I check email etc in the evening I try to make sure it's not too late.

 

Good luck with your cutting back!

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I definitely think other people suffer with that. As Madeline says, I think there have been studies to prove it recently.

I remember reading once (I can’t remember where, unfortunately), that while the news used to be something you’d see or hear at a particular time of the day, on tv or on the radio, we’re now constantly plugged into it. Add to that the fact that the overwhelming majority of what we see is negative (in part because dramatic and scary article titles are the ones that get the most clicks) and it’s unsurprising that it causes anxiety. 
I hope your resolution will help your sleeping and anxiety! 

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30 minutes ago, Angury said:

What do you guys do with your time instead of going on the internet?

 

Posting that here, I suspect you might get a lot of people replying that they read books!*

 

*Other hobbies are available...

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I missed this  topic the first time around but it is a subject I have been battling with for the last year or so at least. Like a lot of people as I have got older I feel as though my attention span is a lot less than I remember it to be and I get easily distracted. For a while I assumed that this is just a consequence of aging but relatively speaking I'm not that old (39). When Apple introduced the weekly screen time report to their devices I became alarmed at the amount of time I spent looking at my phone and this lead me to read a book called Irresistible by Adam Alter. In the book Alter explains how modern mobile technology and computers are not a bad thing but how they a designed to constantly grab your attention, especially mobile phones. He really digs deep into how notifications, likes, and web design are used together to build a craving to check what's the latest news or update. As a result of reading this book I decided I needed to take steps to reduce this habit I had developed over the last 5-10 years. Although I've never been a fan of Facebook I was a user of Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. I ended up deleting my Twitter account, and removing both Instagram and Reddit from my phone. I kept Instagram on my iPad as I used to use it to publish my wildlife photography but the iPad interface is purposefully designed to be a bad user experience, encouraging users to put it on their phones. The Instagram issue is one that I am still battling as I did like to put my photos on their but I find it too addictive once it's on my phone and don't want to re-install it.

 

Another thing that I did was to turn off every notification on my phone with the exception of calls and messages. I realised that I don't need to be aware of the latest news or the other related app notifications that got fired my way on a constant basis. I changed my email setting to 'fetch' rather than 'push' and have got into the habit of checking it twice a day. I also deleted pretty much all of the news apps at the start of the pandemic as I realised that constantly reading the news was not good for my mental health. News reporting has changed so much in the last 20 years and I do not like the modern way of reporting with attention grabbing headlines and sensational reporting. I find TV news especially annoying as I don't want to know what Bob from the chip shop thinks about Coronavirus, I want an informed person to give me the facts and nothing else.

 

My most recent steps have been to reduce my internet use as a whole, especially my habit of having YouTube or Netflix playing in the background when I am doing something online. I means that I never concentrated fully on what I was doing which ties into my feeling of being easily distracted. My computer set up had 2 monitors so I got rid of one of them making it much harder to watch a video while doing something else. I also toyed with the idea of getting rid of my desktop computer entirely and just using my laptop for everything but there are a lot of tasks that I do which are much easier to do on a desktop so that idea went out of the window. While this has helped, I still use the internet far more than I would like and it remains a constant internal battle with myself. The most frustrating thing about it all is that I know that when I use it a lot less I am not missing out on anything and I do feel generally better, especially mentally. Last month I did a 6 day hike along the length of Hadrian's wall and due to the places we were staying the internet access and phone signal was patchy at best. This meant that once the day's walking was done we would watch a bit of TV, use pretty much no internet and spend the rest of the evening chatting, playing board games and reading. Before we went on our trip I felt really frazzled and stressed about life in general but a few days in and this had all gone and I still feel better now, a week after getting back. At this point I would recommend another book called The Shallows by Nicholas Carr which explains how modern media is changing the structure of our brains leading to lack of attention and the need for constant stimulation.

 

To answer Angury's question above, and sorry about the long post above. I read (obviously), watch documentaries, journal, write, sketch, learn new things, and exercise. I also do other things on an irregular basis, for example I had a tiffin from a cafe the other week, I had never made them before so I looked up a recipe and made some. Another thing that I really like doing when I have a day off to myself in the week is going for a long walk. I check out a map and try to pick somewhere I've not been locally before and go for a walk. I try to keep it fairly rural if I can and I always feel better afterwards. Sometimes I will listen to an audiobook or podcast if it's a walk I've done many times before but sometimes I won't listen to anything and instead just listen and think. I've found taking a pair of binoculars and keeping an eye open for wildlife to be particularly therapeutic.

 

Of everything I have tried, the two things that have made the biggest difference are turning off all but essential notifications, and moving my phone. I found that moving my charger from the bedroom to the living room to have the biggest benefit when it comes to breaking my browsing habit. I did have to buy an alarm clock but now my phone goes on charge at 8pm and I don't pick it up again until after breakfast (99% of the time). The first and last thing I used to during my day would be checking out my phone in bed and this is definitely a bad habit to get into and will disrupt your sleep.

 

All of this sounds like I have got it all worked out but I assure you that this is not the case. I am definitely spending less time in front of a screen than before and although I do slip up from time to time it's something I am determined to carry on with. It's not as though I am productive throughout the day either but all the little things are helping me move in a more positive direction.

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Well done Brian, very true what to say. As I'm working from home I'm on a screen pretty much all day 5 days a week, the internet does provide a welcome distraction from the tedium of work though, and I've been doing a bit more Facebook - mainly following a  few authors - but when I'm not working I normally only check email etc (including this forum!) once or twice a day (especially if there's nothing on telly in the evening) but  I do try to have a cut off time if I get distracted by too many sites and music videos.  I don't check my phone obsessively though.

 

we were talking in one of our work Zoom meetings that a new "thing" now is for someone to text someone else to let them know they'll be phoning them, when in the old days we just used to phone.....anyone else had this?

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How are you all making out with Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp being down today? I've got other things I can peruse that fell to the wayside so it's really nice to actually go back to some of my favorite blogs.

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4 minutes ago, Virginia said:

 

How are you all making out with Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp being down today? I've got other things I can peruse that fell to the wayside so it's really nice to actually go back to some of my favorite blogs.

 

 

Twitter is still up!

 

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I wasn’t aware of the outage until a friend who usually messages me using WhatsApp sent me a text message instead.

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17 minutes ago, Virginia said:

How are you all making out with Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp being down today? I've got other things I can peruse that fell to the wayside so it's really nice to actually go back to some of my favorite blogs.

 

16 minutes ago, Raven said:

Twitter is still up!

 

Whatsapp is fine too here! I work with a tuition company in China and have had Whatsapp messages from them today as well. Maybe it's a local issue?

 

On 01/10/2020 at 9:44 AM, Brian. said:

When Apple introduced the weekly screen time report to their devices I became alarmed at the amount of time I spent looking at my phone and this lead me to read a book called Irresistible by Adam Alter. In the book Alter explains how modern mobile technology and computers are not a bad thing but how they a designed to constantly grab your attention, especially mobile phones. He really digs deep into how notifications, likes, and web design are used together to build a craving to check what's the latest news or update. As a result of reading this book I decided I needed to take steps to reduce this habit I had developed over the last 5-10 years.

No idea how I missed this last year but I completely agree. I definitely notice a difference in my own stress levels when I don't use my phone for a long time. I also turned off news alerts because it's definitely not good to be bombarded by stressful (sometimes totally misleading) headlines all day. On the other hand, it seems increasingly as though we're expected to be plugged in all the time for work. There are a few job adverts I've seen recently that specify good social media capabilities, which then makes me feel that I need to be more active on at least one social media platform to be noticed for a job (I should point out, none of the jobs had anything to do with social media). One I looked at just today asked, even more specifically, to show professional use of Twitter. The website I use to advertise tutoring tracks how long you take to respond to messages and rates you accordingly, so the faster you reply the better rating you get, increasing your chance to get work. I've also been doing some freelance editing for a company who just give the job to someone else if you don't reply fast enough, and since they have no 'work hours' I have to have email alerts on constantly. I don't have much of an option other than to play along at the moment, but I do find it incredibly frustrating. And don't even get me started on LinkedIn...  

That turned into a bit of a rant but, my point is, just as professionals are pointing out that being connected to our phones/ the internet all the time isn't good for us, there's increased expectation that we stay constantly connected. It just doesn't seem right. 

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2 minutes ago, Brian. said:

I wasn’t aware of the outage until a friend who usually messages me using WhatsApp sent me a text message instead.

Well that's weird! Has it only gone down in the last hour or so?

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1 hour ago, Hayley said:

Well that's weird! Has it only gone down in the last hour or so?

 

 

Its been down in my area since at least 5pm uk time.

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Just before that is actually the last time I used WhatsApp - I think I’d just lost all sense of how late it was! Everything seems to be back up now though.

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I made out really well. The outage brought home how dependent our businesses rely on these three social media platforms. Many businesses felt the burn and I'm wondering if they are now rethinking their business models. I'm actually in the process of setting up my real estate business online but I'm thinking I will not rely on FB, Whatsapp or Instagram as my only means of reaching the masses.

 

Am I the only one that finds it strange that the outage happened as soon as the FB whistleblower made herself known?  I wonder how much cleaning up they did? Methinks it's a bit too late as she already has thousands of recipes for their transgressions. 

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4 hours ago, Virginia said:

Am I the only one that finds it strange that the outage happened as soon as the FB whistleblower made herself known?

I hadn't heard anything about that. I just looked it up and wow is there a lot of disturbing information! I agree that the timing seems odd but also that it seems a little late for any cleaning up!

 

4 hours ago, Virginia said:

I'm actually in the process of setting up my real estate business online

That's exciting! I have seen others point out today that the outage made them realise that it's dangerous to rely on technology from a single source. Yet another reason why big businesses buying everything up isn't a good thing!

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