Belfast Telegraph

I'm going cold turkey with my net addiction ... it'll be no sweat

By Nuala McKeever

Feel sick. Sore. Coughing til I retch. Hot and sweaty. Cold and sweaty. Miserable. Take tablets. Sweat more. Decide to stop fighting the discomfort and just stew under the blankets. Try to sleep but here's a new thing... can't switch brain off.

Go back to laptop for some distraction. Eyes so heavy and sore but keep trawling, scrolling, surfing (no, that's far too active a word for this activity. 'Slugging' would be more appropriate to what I do) checking facebook and mail and news etc etc.

Try to sleep, can't switch off brain. Go back to internet. Is this what it's like to be a pet hamster in a cage, waking up at night to have a wee run on a wheel, giving the impression of activity but actually getting nowhere?

After three days and nights, the answer.

There, online, is the reason I'm like this. An article from the Financial Times, posted on Facebook by someone of my acquaintance, tells me that people are becoming addicted to internet use because it can cause surges of dopamine, the chemical that gets released to give us pleasure and reward sensations, in the brain. So we keep coming back for more. Aaaahhhhh... so that's it.

I've known for a long time that if my pleasure zone is being tickled, I feel happy. If I have good interesting conversation to stimulate me, I don't eat as much. If there's nothing going on on the conversational level, I use food and drink to hit the spot. Conversation and banter and flirting and engagement, they're cheaper and less fattening but not as readily available as food.

So it seems this week of flu/cough/chest infection/night sweats (THEY'RE BECAUSE I'M SICK, NOT BECAUSE I'M A WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE, OKAY????!!!???) has been exacerbated by SMA - Social Media Addiction. OMG! I'm a teenager!

Every time I take a drug to soothe and calm, I then counteract its effect by firing up the laptop and stirring the brain with drivel. Okay, it's not all drivel, but really, I could live happily without knowing anything about flag protests and Celebrity Big Brother and what someone I barely know in the US thinks of Obama's tax and spend policy. Well, I say happily. At this rate I concede it's gonna take a little weaning off to get me to a place of contentment without web content.

Books! I could always try reading again. Well, I have tried, but the mental equivalent of Tangy Cheese Doritos, which is net surfing, has rather dumbed down my ability to engage in the mental equivalent of porridge with fresh berries. I don't like Tangy Cheese Doritos and I don't like reading stupid drivel online, but somehow, once I start, I find it hard to stop.

So it's gonna have to be cold turkey. No other way. I'm gonna turn off and try to calm the electronic buzzing chatter in the head.

Once this is written that's it! The computer's going off and staying off. And no sneaky checking internet on the phone either. It'll be face to face or, given how hugely unattractive and contagious I am right now, voice to voice only, from now on, if I want any interaction with others.

I can do it. I know I can. I'm not a junkie, man. I can do it, no sweat. Well... apart from the no sweat bit, obviously....


From Belfast Telegraph