Reading, the Internet, and Self Discipline

The internet and self-control. How this wife, writer, and reader is constantly fighting the pull of the world’s most laughable addiction.

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Reading is the thing I do of which I’m most proud.   I’m proud of my interests in sociology, literature, feminism and healthy living.  My reading changes the way I think about the world, and it changes me.  Also, it’s the voluminous nature of my reading which spurs me to write.  When I don’t read, I simply have less that I want to say.  Yet despite my enjoyment of this hobby I often don’t set aside time to read.  I still do it of course, however I could be doing more of it, with more analysis of how what I read relates to my experiences, and with attention to plot, character, and style.  So, (with a thanks to my sister for reminding me of this), I made a check chart of a few simple goals for October relating to this. 

They are:  To read 90 minutes a day. To spend twice a week privately journalling about my reading material and what response it calls on based on my life. To (similar to blogger Katie Gibson of Cakes, Tea and Dreams) review my reading each month (or perhaps weekly?) on my blog. And finally, the most important, To turn off the internet at 9pm.

October Means: Checklists and Salem Haunted Happenings

I didn’t realize how important this last one would be until I started trying it last week.

I have some self-control some of the time.  I don’t watch TV in the mornings, I (mostly) stick to my budget. I only drink one to two cups of (at the moment) decaf coffee a day.

However, the internet and I have had a varied and, at times, unhealthy relationship.  I first got a computer in May 2003, the summer before I went away to college.  After a brief period of summer camp I was reunited with the computer, and introduced to the DSL at college, a far cry from my parents dialup.   Prior to making many friends and in a fit of gluttony to catch up with music never listened to and ideas never encountered I spent about 4 or 5 hours a day on the internet.  This is also when I was introduced to blogging daily.  This continued through college.

Then I went through a period of life where I was in the middle of nowheres, New Zealand with limited internet access.  Coming back to the United States and reacquainted with my computer, I once again gorged on articles, magazines, fanfiction, facebook, and instant messaging.  Alas, the computer died shortly after this reawakened heavy usage.  Not having the money to buy a new computer, and telling myself I had enjoyed my time away from the internet anyway, I staved off from purchasing a new machine for 10 months.

Then I bought a Mac. (RIP Steve Jobs.) I’m somewhat (but not completely) ashamed to say that I treat this beautiful machine as nothing much more than a glorified typewriter, internet machine, and photo album.  Yet again, I rekindled my love of blogs, facebook, and discovered what Hulu had to offer.  Still, at a point of independence in my life, and with many friends, my internet usage probably topped out at 10 to 12 hours a week. Not bad, considering I was using it for TV as well. I also declared myself free of the computer on Sundays.

However, now I have a child. This child (to my chagrin) compels me to spend a great deal of my time at home, at night, with my still sleek, though somewhat stained, Macbook lying temptingly beside me. Who was Ernest Hemingway’s third wife?  And what was National Geographic’s picture of the day?  And what has The Sartorialist posted?  AHHH!! I WANT TO KNOW!

Focus.

But the problem is, I often can’t if I know I can “just look something up real quick.”  Often, that something leads to something else, and before I know it, I’ve left undone writing I wanted to do, reading I was enjoying, or left a pile of dishes in the sink.

So, I have self-control.  But not always, and not when I need it, in my quietest points of the day, which are most conducive for reflection and reading.  However, with the checklist, I shall get back on track.

This Week's Reading

Author: Beth M

Life Lessons, Parenting, Books, Sustainability.

1 thought on “Reading, the Internet, and Self Discipline”

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