Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It’s always struck me as an artificial incentive for vow-making. I’m also mindful of the Jewish tradition of nullifying prior oaths at the beginning of the New Year; so I’m like, “If I’m gonna beg off all my vows, why make them in the first place?”
And yet, this year, I made a resolution. I wasn’t looking for it. It found me.
This: In the coming year, I’m going to drastically cut back on my Internet use. Less social networking. Less frequent news reading. Less aimless browsing. Less consuming quantity, and more consuming quality.
Here’s how it found me.
I took a long break over the holidays. Long enough to start enjoying the peace and relaxation that happen in week two.
As I started enjoying this peace, I noticed something: I felt sick after using the Internet.
The more I’d graze — jumping from post to post, checking social networks for activity, cruising through the top links on popurls.com — the sicker I felt. Dull and listless. Tired and unfocused. Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Unproductive.
And suddenly, the light turned on: this sickness I was feeling was pretty much par for the course when I’m not on vacation.
I started reading about Internet’s effect on our brains, and referred back at my August 30 post about multi-tasking. The Internet is one big multi-task. Every time you dip in your toe, you’re overwhelmed with information and stimulus. There’s a strong argument that we, as a species, don’t come by this behavior naturally. Our caveman-era brains can’t handle it.
So, I’m cutting back. I’m going to be more choosy about what I look at, and how much I consume. I’m going to spend less time devouring screens, and more time observing my own thoughts.
I’m a realist. I can’t give it up completely. Used wisely, it’s an incredible tool: for research, learning, communication, networking and entertainment. Not to mention an essential tool for our business
But used unwisely, the Internet can turn your brain to mush, make you sad, lower your IQ and kill your creativity.
This year, I hope to be more mindful of the difference.