Friday, 16 November 2012

Cutting down the internet.


The internet is electronic cocaine. All of us - bloggers, commenters, lurkers and trolls - are hopelessly addicted to novelty:
“The computer is electronic cocaine for many people,” says Whybrow. “Our brains are wired for finding immediate reward. With technology, novelty is the reward. You essentially become addicted to novelty.”

We can’t stop because the brain has no built-in braking system. With most natural constraints gone, all we’ve got left is our own intelligence and the internal regulatory system in the frontal cortex, the most recent evolutionary addition to the brain. This “executive brain” regulates impulse control and reasoning. But, Whybrow notes, “despite our superior intelligence, we remain driven by our ancient desires.”

The most primitive part of our brain – the medulla and cerebellum – developed millennia ago when dinner tended to run or fly away. It cradles the roots of the ancient dopamine reward pathways. When an action has a good result, like snatching food before it escapes, or finding something new, dopamine neurotransmitters release chemicals that make us feel pleasure. And the more we get, the more we want. When these reward circuits are overloaded with near-continuous spikes in dopamine, our craving for reward – be it drugs, sex, food, or incoming texts – “becomes a hunger that has no bounds,” says Whybrow.
If you're like me, then you spend practically your entire working day sitting at a screen, much of it on the internet. The problem is that you have to do things you don't want to do, while the things you do want to do - Youtube, Facebook, etc. - are mere keystrokes away.

So what's the first thing you do when you get home? You fire up the PC and keep on staring at a screen, doing the things you do want to do, and have wanted to do all day. It's such a relief from all the tedious work you had to do.

Stepping away from the screen would be more life-affirming, as you well know. But you still don't do it, do you? No, you sit there, barely moving, clicking away late into the night. You can't go to bed yet. You might miss something.

It's not entirely your fault. Like me, you've inadvertently wired your brain into dependence on online novelty. The crappiest blogs are sufficiently stimulating to keep us all entranced into the early hours, awash in the eerie blue glow of cyberspace. And the more you do this, the less tolerant you become of long articles - you want novelty sooner, which is why microblogging (Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and three-sentence posts) have become so popular.

As you can see from the long list down the right side of the page, I read a lot of blogs. I spend a lot of time online. Too much time, in fact, which I could be using to do other things. Like reading the classics or learning a language or going outside in the sun or traveling.

On that note, Matt Forney recently announced that he is unplugging from the matrix for the remainder of his travels across the States, although that was three days ago and he has posted twice since then. I have no grand plans like traversing a continent, but I can relate to what he says about the isolation of being permanently connected. Being online puts us in direct contact with millions of people from all over the world. Yet each of us is very much alone.

In an earlier post, Forney listed all the sites he's going to stop reading on his trek. I can see his point. Political blogs always seem like they're having a slow news day. MRAs just rehash the same arguments, which is not necessarily a bad thing since they need to keep to a set number of issues and concentrate on agitating for those - but I've heard it a hundred times now. Game posts are variations on a theme.

My point isn't that I'm bored of any of this. That's the problem. If I was bored, there would be nothing stopping me from quitting the manosphere altogether. The problem is that there's not much useful information, but I'm addicted to it anyway. Like craving junk food.

I'm on day 17 of the Chronicles and I've posted every day so far. What can I say, I've always had something to talk about. Posts may become less frequent in the future as, like Bob Chandler the internet lumberjack, I start to cut down the internet.

From today, I'm using LeechBlock to limit my browsing time to two hours a day. I've used LeechBlock in the past to stop myself from accessing certain sites I was particularly addicted to (no, not porn) and it works. It's time to pull out the stops and apply it universally.

The internet is great. It's how we all found out about the red pill and related concepts. If not for the manosphere, we might all still be wondering if the things that make us miserable are personal rather than political.

But ... real life is great, too. And spending too much time reading the inconsequential thoughts of random assholes on the other side of the Atlantic is not healthy for anyone.

I will report on any interesting developments that result from cutting down the internet.

- Mojo

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