I feel like I need to start this with an introduction like you might at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting:
Hello, my name is Jonathan, and I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet. (The first step to curing your problem is admitting you have one, right?)
I've been aware for a long time that I spend entirely too much time online. I know that it definitely affects my grades. Whether it's binge-watching Mad Men (or Buffy for the 18th time, yes I'll proudly 'fess up to that) or scrolling through my Instagram feed for the hundredth time, I find myself spending unconscionable amounts of time online. So for me, this media binge was not a huge change. I tried to really get into it. I put on headphones, borrowed my fiancée's iPad so I could have three screens, turned on Netflix and hunkered down for a two day binge-fest. Then she yelled at me for wearing headphones while watching Netflix, so I had to tone it down a little, but I did spend most of the next two days scrolling until my fingers bled. (slight exaggeration) Since my evenings usually consist of non-stop social media and Netflix anyway, I can't say that I felt too different. Since I was really pushing it, I did have a little bit of trouble sleeping, but nothing too drastic. To be honest, I'm not sure my fiancée even knew I was doing anything differently until I told her about it.
The media fast was another story entirely. Since finals are coming up, I tried to really apply myself to fasting and use the time to study or catch up on homework. I think in high school that may have been a little easier for me because there were always worksheets or textbooks to look at. Now, it's nearly impossible to abstain from the internet if you're trying to be productive. In college, everything is on Blackboard or the study guides are digital or the assignments are online. I tried to stay focused on the homework, but would find myself checking Facebook while the page loaded before I even realized I was doing it. Walking to school, I would be staring at my phone screen for several minutes before my brain caught up and reminded me I was supposed to shut it off. I'm not sure you could call what I ended up doing a fast. It was more like a practice in self flagellation, kicking myself every two minutes when I caught myself logging on.
It may well be that I have an addiction. Maybe we all do. Maybe it's just a habit. Is there really a difference there? Regardless of how you want to define it, it's pretty clear that the internet is not something I can cut cold turkey like I did with cigarettes. It's worked itself into every area of our lives while we weren't looking, and now we're too deep to get out. It's useful, true, but it's definitely a powerful habit that's hard to break.