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.


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.


Again, this may be correlative not causal.