Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Myspace… the list is endless. Millions of us are addicted. The Government tells us that our time wasting internet addictions are costing the country billions of dollars every year. Our productivity at work is dismal because we spend most of the day reading our Fun Wall or checking out our favorite blogs. Can this additive behavior be beaten?
The answer is yes.
In this article I want to give you some simple and concrete ways to beat your time wasting internet addiction.
Facebook Syndrome: How to tell if you are an internet addict
Before we start you need to find out if you are an addict. Once you have admitted to yourself that you are addicted to your favorite website we can go about giving you some solutions for that problem. Here are some surefire signs that you are addicted:
1. You are late for meetings because you are on Facebook
If you ever late for a meeting or an appointment because you were checking your updates on Facebook or watching a related video on Youtube then you know you are addicted. This is classic addict behavior. It is time to get help.
2. You think about it when you are offline
I have several friends who struggle to get to sleep because they are thinking about the latest game or wondering how their website statistics are looking. If you do this then it could be a sign that you are heading towards a problem.
3. Your friends and family comment on your excessive internet use
When other people around you start to notice that you have a problem it is generally a pretty accurate indicator that you are losing it. If your mates, coworkers or family members have made comments about how much you use the net then you need to read the rest of this post.
4. You check your accounts from your Blackberry
A Blackberry is designed as a business tool. It is supposed to allow you to check your important emails and work materials without having to be in the office. It is not for checking Facebook or Myspace updates while you are having dinner with me. That is just not on. If you use your Blackberry for monitoring your social media accounts then you need help.
5. You get stressed when a Facebook “friend” doesn’t add you
Have you ever noticed yourself getting stressed over something that has happened on Facebook or Myspace? Do you ever feel like your online life is more real than your offline life? If you have been stressed about what rapper you turned out as or what magic egg someone sent you then it is time to open your eyes.
How to easily beat time wasting internet addictions
Now that you have established that you have a problem you need to get yourself some recovery tools. The strategies and tools that are presented here are some simple ways you can beat the Facebook Syndrome.
1. Admit that you have a problem
I want you to take a deep breath and then repeat after me. Seriously, repeat this out a loud – even if you are in your office or an internet cafe.
“I have an internet addiction problem.”
Good. Now that you have acknowledged your problem we can proceed. There is no point in trying to beat an addiction if you do not seriously believe that you have one. This is important.
2. Write down exactly how much time you spend on each site
This task is more difficult than you might think. Usually we have a work window open, a Facebook window open and then maybe some windows with our favorite blogs waiting for them to update. What you need to do is close the windows and only open them once you have written down the time. Then when you close the window you need to write the time down again. At the end of the day add up how much time you have been on your chosen site and record it in a little book.
The reason it is important to know how long you have been on the sites is because it gives you a solid measure of how bad your addiction is. Recovering gamblers do the same thing. They write down how much money they spend in a day. We need to write down our Facebook hours!
After a few days, weeks and months this number should decrease.
3. Give yourself a set time of the day to visit
We need to realize that spending time on these sites is not a bad thing. Done in the right amounts it can be a lot of fun and even quite healthy. However, if you start to notice that your law school assignment is still not done because you have been watching Tom Cruise’s Scientology rant on Youtube all night then it has gone beyond a joke.
Instead of banning the site altogether why not give yourself a set period of time to visit? For example, you might give yourself the first 20 minutes of the work day you check all your updates and then not log on for the rest of the day. Or you might decide that the last 30 minutes of work is Myspace time as a reward for a long day of super productive work.
Banning your addiction outright often leads to a Facebook relapse. We don’t want this. Give yourself some set times to visit and don’t break the limits.
4. Turn off email notifications
Email notifications are like little red devils coming to sit on your shoulder and begging you to come back and visit Facebook. Turn them off. You don’t need to be notified every time someone sends you a message. If it was that important they should email you or, God forbid, use the telephone. You also don’t need to be notified every time someone rates your sexiness, adds a fish to your aquarium or sends you a new bumper sticker!
Turn off email reminders so you can get on with your work.
5. Meditate as soon as the thought arises
One of the most powerful ways to beat Facebook Syndrome is to look directly at the tempting thought as soon as it arises in your mind. You do not need to judge it or try to push it out – just look at it. The thought might arise as a worrying thought that begs you to check your updates so you don’t offend anyone. Or it might appear as a carefree thought saying that one quick look won’t hurt. Whatever it arises as the meditation is to just look at it. When you can do that the power of the thought will be drained well and truly.
6. Get off the computer
Really… do you need to spend that much time on the computer? Honestly ask yourself that. Instead of getting home, pouring a beer and sitting in front of the computer to check your updates you could go for a walk, hit the gym or go and see a movie. There is so much more to do in life than watch your hatching egg grow. Really there is.
7. Write down what you used to do before Facebook
Something that can be really useful to do is write down a list of things that you used to do before you got addicted to Facebook or Myspace. For example, some people might write, “I used to meet girls”.
Try and reconnect with what you used to do before these sites became such a big part of your life. Some of you will be quite surprised at how much you now do not do because you are spending so much time on the internet. You may also notice that around the same time your waistline suddenly got bigger…
8. Block the sites the REAL way
Your computer allows you to block certain sites. Sure, you can unblock them straight away if you wanted to but the more barriers you put in your way the better. However, if you want to seriously block these sites from your computer you can do it the REAL way:
Click START and then select RUN. In that box type notepad c:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts. A neat little Notepad will appear with a bunch of computer jargon on it. Scroll down to the last line of that code and type 127.0.0.1 facebook.com. After that Facebook will never show up on your PC again. You can substitute the domain for any other domain that you do not want to view.
Conclusion on beating Facebook Syndrome
This article is intended as a bit of a joke because I noticed that I was spending a ridiculous amount of time on these sites. The above techniques are techniques I have used to cut back on the time I was wasting. I am sure they will work for you but if you know of any other then please let us know.