The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Take Back Your Life by Cutting Back on Your Internet Usage at Home

Over the past year or so I noticed something very disturbing. Compared to my earlier self which could easily read 60- 100 books a year, I was barely reading at all. To be sure, I was reading all the time – on the computer at work and on the computer at home- but it was either work related or it was on my RSS reader. But when it came to books I wasn’ t reading very many and when I did sit down to read I found that i had a very hard time concentrating on the book at hand.

At first I blamed it on being very busy, and of course I am pretty busy. I am a husband and father. I spend three nights a week at Judo and Aikido. In the past Monday night was the one night I watched television and then Friday night I spent staying up to all hours watching Youtube videos. Saturday night I usually spent preparing for my Sunday school class the next morning. So all of this cut into the time available for reading. But I couldn’t blame it all on being busy. There were other factors.

One of those factors was linux. For the past year or so I have become absolutely obsessed with linux to the point where I was wheedling all my friends and family to allow me to install linux on all their old computers. i started using virtual machines to test various linux distros and before you knew it I was spending hours every night fiddling with linux.

All of these were factors to be sure but one I thing noticed that really scared me was the amount of time I wasted just aimlessly cruising the internet. I would sit down at the computer to check a few sites or do some quick research on a subject and the next thing you know I had spent hours on the internet with nothing to show for it. I began to feel a deep sense of disgust with myself. The culmination came one night when I caught myself up at 230 in the morning watching videos of a cat riding a damn vacuum cleaner.

The problem I have come to believe was the internet itself. While the internet can be a wonderful thing, in my case and, i suspect, many others the internet can also become an addiction. Most of my job involves staying abreast of current events and there is a certain rush you get as you follow news stories play out in the media cycle. But I realized that I was taking that same craving home with me. And I don’t like that. I want my home life to be insulated as much as possible from the affairs of the world. I want the peace and tranquillity to think about ideas and issues that matter. I want to be able to read good books. I want to get my school work done. I want to be present for my kids and to my wife. i want them to have my full attention when I with them. I want my life back.

And so for these reasons I decided to forgo the internet at home. At first I decided to try it for the remainder of Lent but I have had such good success with it that I think I will try and make it permanent.

I want to make it clear that I have not cut out the internet completely ( I am writing this on my home computer). What I have done though is to severely limit my internet consumption. I don’t turn it on in the mornings before work since my morning time is a valuable commodity. I also do my best to turn the computer off as soon as I get home from work since the very fact that it is on represents a temptation to use it. To make this possible i try and do everything I need to do on a computer at work. If I do have to use a computer I turn it on just long enough to do whatever it is that needs to be done and then I turn it off.

I can only say that it is truly one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I have read more in the past two weeks than I have read in ages. I am happy to report that I am starting to read philosophy again and i hope that I have freed up some time to devote my schoolwork which has really suffered over the past year. Based on my experience, I wholeheartedly recommend limiting your internet usage at home I think you will be much happier and more productive if you do.

If you’d like to read how and why other people have made the same decision to drastically alter their relationship with the internet you can find more here,here, or here

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