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.