Alvin Kerber

math and computers and stuff


Symptoms of Internet Use

I’ve spent very little time online over the past few weeks. Today I was fortunate enough to have some extra time on my hands and immediately indulged myself in my usual online habits. While I enjoyed myself in the moment (I think) my physical feelings aftewards were very unpleasant. I ran into the same thing last time I had a significant period away from web surfing/browsing, in early 2019. From what I remember the symptoms are pretty much the same and I wanted to write them down.

Physical:

I’ve never quit computer use cold turkey, but both times these symptoms crop up after my first reexposure to the “most addictive part” of the internet – blogs, aggregators, comment chains, forums, feeds, etc.

I’m not sure if these are only because of new exposure after a long period of disuse – it takes time to be “acclimated” to web surfing – or if they continue forward and I simply get used to the effects. The latter scenario seems very serious for my physical and mental health.

At no point since I was very young have I genuinely stayed off the internet for an extended period of time. However, periods in which my access was more limited (could only get to it in libraries, a roommate’s room, Starbucks, etc) do appear to coincide with times when I was more energetic, confident in my future, self-directed, etc, and executed long-term plans more effectively. In particular I was exceptionally productive from 2009–2012 as well as in 2016 and the first part of 2019. This may be correlative not causal. It may also be causal but highly self-reinforcing/positive feedback based depending on how other parts of my life are doing. The time frame also line up with other self-directed activities (cooking, etc).

However, I should also note that these times also coincide with significant negative symptoms. I suppose these are “Symptoms of Internet Non-Use”. They are less acute but do gradually increase over time.

Physical:

Again, this may be correlative not causal.