Deep Work: Broken Internet Addiction

This is a continuation of my thoughts on Cal Newport’s Deep Work idea (and this one).  One unexpected consequence is that I have no internet addiction anymore (I used to have the normal amount, rather than some sort of unusual obsession).  I have been clean for forty days now.

I think it is fair to say that Newport is anti-social media (see here, here, here, here, and others).  I don’t share that idea, but I have been trying to cut back on social media recently.  I was starting to slip with Facebook and Twitter last fall, mostly due to a couple of ongoing Scrabble games on Facebook and missing some of the people I only know on Twitter.  This semester, I decided to make a clean break.  I no longer check even Google Plus.  The only thing I allow myself to check is my RSS feed full of blogs, which I intend to continue checking.

Here is what happened:  I am no longer distracted by this.  I am completely—COMPLETELY—out of the habit of going to the computer to just check, say, Google Plus.  That portion of my brain has been completely freed up.

Combining this with the fact that I almost never use the computer at home means that my recreational computer time is close to zero.  This has had several consequences.

Good consequences:  I am more productive at work, and I stick with problems longer (Deep Work!).  I am more attentive to my kids at home.  I am reading more books at home (rather than reading page one million of the worst book ever on the iPad), and I get more sleep.

Bad consequences:  I used to pride myself on being aware of the news and pop culture.  I am no longer in the loop.  I almost forgot that the Superbowl was on Sunday (I wasn’t planning on watching it, and didn’t.  I watched The Incredibles with my kids instead).  In fact, I wouldn’t have known who won the Superbowl until today had I not heard how “Superbowl winner Peyton Manning” had plugged Budweiser on NPR Marketplace on the drive to work on Monday (I do get some information from NPR and some podcasts).

On balance, I am very happy with how things are going with this.  I like not being a slave to the iPad at home, and I like getting more done at work.  If I want to be more in the loop, I can schedule a weekly scan of news and pop culture (although I am not planning on it at this time).


6 Responses to “Deep Work: Broken Internet Addiction”

  1. Pinky Says:

    Congrats on your break! While I am pretty good at reducing my internet intake when I get too busy, I imagine I would have a very difficult time cutting off from it completely.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      It has been difficult for me for years, but it all snapped into place this semester. I wasn’t even really trying to eliminate it completely—it just kind of naturally happened after I made enough restrictions.

  2. Darci Kracht Says:

    I have an addiction to Solvable by Radicals posts. 😉

  3. Deep Work: | Solvable by Radicals Says:

    […] « Deep Work: Broken Internet Addiction […]

  4. Deep Work: Imperfection | Solvable by Radicals Says:

    […] is another part of the series on Cal Newport’s Deep Work idea (and this one, this one,  and this one).  I have been swamped the last couple of weeks with meetings and […]

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