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Last week I had internet problems. Not a small glitch that resolved itself with a quick reboot either of the computer or the modem. No this one was persistent, requiring a phone call to my internet provider to get me back online and able to communicate with the outside world. And while I waited I discovered a couple of things. I’m addicted to the internet. I like to check my emails throughout the day. In fact to make sure I don’t miss anything, I have my cell phone next to my work station so that when I’m working offline I still know when I have a new email come in. Sometimes it is an important email and once every two or three months even vital that it be answered very promptly. But the rest of the time, I don’t need any enhancement of any kind and your limited offer to improve my business or teach me the latest in social media technology could be handled at the end of the work day.
The problem was compounded when I loaned my car to my daughter for the day because hers was in the shop.
So there I was. Stranded. Without internet access unable to focus on my current projects. That seemed strange to me, until I began to evaluate the reasons behind my discomfort.
I’d joined the ranks of “immediate gratification.” If a question popped into my head, whether it was the date of a particular astronaut’s retirement or if a certain recipe I’d recently seen on my Facebook account (I WAS on my professional account, so it counts as work, right?) would be helpful for the gluten-free article currently in front of me, I wanted the information right now.
When had this happened?
When had I become this addicted to constant and instant connection to information? There was a day when I had to wait until I actually walked through the doors of a library before I could look something up. With the internet, I have found that when I wake up with a question in my head, I can just get up, turn on my laptop and find out. That way I returned to slumber with my mind at ease.
I know, everyone reading this is now chiding me for my poor sleep habits, my self-proclaimed addiction, and my inability to control my impulses. I’m going to challenge you to do the same thing. For a full 24 hour period, turn off all your electronics that can connect to the internet in any capacity. ALL of them.
You’ll think in the first fifteen minutes, “Oh, this is a breeze.” But as the day passes, you want to check and see if your client responded to your request for an expansion of the project you discussed yesterday. (Yesterday was Friday, you aren’t supposed to be working on the weekend…at least it used to be we didn’t work on the weekend.) Then you wonder about your friends and their outing at the new club last night. Oh, now you have a question that needs to be answered in order to be on top of that project for Monday morning.
Your reasons for connecting to the internet may be different from mine, but the point is, our addiction is insidious. We believe we don’t really need to be connected. But the moment I discovered I couldn’t have instant access to information I began to behave like a junkie needing a fix. I became agitated, frustrated, irritated. My behavior shocked even me.
Since then, I’ve discovered that by disconnecting from the internet for about four to six hours a day, I’m much better focused on projects, I get more done, and I find access to the internet more of a reward than a fix. What’s the longest you can go unplugged?