A Week Free from the Internet – An Experiment
I‘ve gotten sufficiently annoyed recently by one of my sons (and I’m not going to say which one) and his dependence on electronic entertainment that I’ve decided to run a family experiment. This morning I unplugged the television, took away the Nintendo DS’s, and banned them from the Internet. To be completely fair to everyone, though, I’ve also done it to myself. Thus, for one week, starting from the moment I publish this article, we will be unplugged from the Internet and all forms of electronic entertainment. The only exception to this is my wife who makes a living from the Internet. The internet isn’t evil after all, it’s simply distracting and unnecessary for 3 out of the 4 of us (eventually I will need to write more articles, but it can wait a week I’m sure.
The Root of My Problem:
If you want to be good at anything in your life you’re going to need focus. You need to practice your thing, whatever it might be, with singular dedication until you become an expert. Sure, you can take a break once in a while to unwind. But, where some people use electronic entertainment as a brief pause from their daily, routine activity, others use it as an escape from responsibility. It can easily transform from a convenience to a debilitating addiction. The Internet, if you’re an expert at it and make your money from it, is great. But, ask yourself how much you really need to be active on the Internet? I make money online and even I don’t need it as much as I use it. Video games are the same. So are television and movies. They all have a place in modern life, but the root of my problem is this: I’d like to see mankind send a manned mission to Mars sometime in my lifetime. That’ll never happen if our brightest minds are being drawn to Facebook instead of just book.
Teach Them Young the Value of Work
No lifetime ambition worth having is going to come easily, and if we can’t teach our kids to keep plugging away at it even when they feel discouraged, they will turn to the easy escape that is electronic media and social media. That’s the main reason I want this experimental period. I want to see if, by unplugging us, the media induced haze clears and they can rediscover the things that are valuable to their lives. Think about what you wanted from your life when you were a kid. I’m sure it wasn’t to spend every day checking up on what your friends are doing or watching sitcoms or shooting video game terrorists. You probably wanted to be a doctor, writer, policeman, pilot or something like that (actually, I wanted to be a Hobo, riding the rails, but that’s a different story). It’s not unusual for people to get, as adults, a close approximation of their childhood ambition. But, it’s quite rare for people to actually live up to their full potential. It’s the distractions, like the Internet and TV (or anything that draws your attention away from what you know is productive), that cause us to fall short.
Think of the Internet like your dog thinks about squirrels. You start your day on a walk and it’s all going fine, the dog is trotting nicely beside you then, WHAM! SQUIRRELL! You spend the next minute corralling the dog and getting back on track. Your dog, however, can’t stop thinking about the squirrel for at least a minute or two. When he does finally get it together, WHAM! ANOTHER SQUIRRELL! And this cycle just keeps on going until your walk is over. Your arm is tired and the dog still has squirrel on the brain. How do you break the cycle? Obedience training of course! You’re supposed to reprogram the dog’s mind to focus on something else that is equally rewarding, like food, so that squirrels cease to be a problem and you both enjoy the walks, getting to where you need to go in a timely fashion. Dogs are dogs and kids are kids, but the principal is universal. If you want to change a bad habit, find something else to focus on. Oversimplified? Yeah, it is. But, it’s better to recognize the problem and intelligently try to fix it than to do nothing and just hope it gets better.
I’ll report back in a week and tell you all how it went. But, until then – Adios!