Internet addiction is a real thing. I haven’t googled it to find out because I am certain that it exists. I definitely have it. My internet addiction started at a very young age, well before my substance addiction came into my life. It all started with a little thing called AOL and a certain “You’ve Got Mail” and the sound that IM’s (instant messages) made when someone contacted you. Even the sound of the modem dialing was like a drive to a dealers house. I knew I was about to get some pleasure.
That same part of my brain loves any substance, candy, caffeine, shopping, winning, gambling, fighting, roller coasters, sex, getting paid, receiving mail, emails from loved ones, getting hired, going to concerts, and exercising. It’s the chemical dopamine and it fires when there is a pleasurable reward. Some of the above things I liked way too much and they had negative consequences in my life. These vices, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, had to go.
The things in my life that give me pleasure today can be more difficult to abstain from because they aren’t giving me blatant negative consequences.
Let’s just get right to the point here. I am addicted to Facebook. I’m not a Facebook abuser, but rather a straight up Facebook addict. Before Facebook it was Myspace and before Myspace it was AOL. (Before that it was just straight up TV and sugar and/or carbohydrates.)
Fear, Loneliness and Time Wasted
The thing with Facebook is that I start out telling myself it’s going to be great. I’m going to check my notifications and connect with some friends I haven’t talked to in a while. Maybe I’ll comment on some peoples’ posts and if I have time read an article or two. Thirty minutes later I’m still scrolling through the news-feed and have read at least three articles and watched a couple of videos. I have “liked” maybe one or two peoples posts but there is this fear that if I like too many things someone will notice and judge me for how long I have been wasting my life on social media.
Social media is anything but social for me. It is like the alcoholic (me) who can’t have just one beer. I can lie to myself and say that I’ll only have one drink or ten minutes of Facebook checking, but it NEVER ends up to be only one drink or only ten minutes checking.
My brain wants MORE. After the first piece of candy it wants MORE SUGAR. After the win in the casino it wants MORE MONEY. After the first sip of wine it wants MORE ALCOHOL. After the first item is purchased it wants MORE CLOTHING.
I was abstinent from Facebook for three years while I was getting my masters, similar to people who can quit drinking while they are pregnant and once they are done breastfeeding (if they are the responsible type) can resume their drinking behavior as before. As soon as I graduated I logged back in and the addiction became worse than it was before.
Trying to Control the Addiction
I told myself that I couldn’t check before ten am. I was checking right before bed and first thing in the morning two days after I set that rule for myself. I told myself I could only check for ten minutes a day and I already told you how that worked out.
I am currently 24 hours clean and sober from my Facebook addiction and I have edited 25 page of my novel, painted 9 paintings, bought 3 birthday presents, talked to many friends, felt less depressed, and wrote my first blog post since I started checking Facebook again back in February. Hi, my name is Amy, and I’m an internet addict. Do you also have internet addiction? What have you done about it? Are you in denial about it? I was, but no more. Bye, bye Facebook. Hello life. Hello God. I surrender.
EDIT: I did google internet addiction after I posted this and this is a great website that explains internet addiction in greater detail. I definitely have been exhibiting some of the withdrawal symptoms such as anger and some of the side effects such as wrist pain and dry eyes.