I spend a lot of time plugged in. I work from home. Being online and on social media is what I do. But for the past several years I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I use the internet and technology. I tend to be curious about what other people are saying on the subject so I added Alex Soojung-Kim Pang's The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul to my library list. (That is one heck of a long subtitle.)
Like with any book of this type, some parts of it really spoke to me while others really didn't. In the first chapters I quickly determined I am not addicted to technology. I like it a whole lot and it would be difficult to live without it, but if someone told me I couldn't use it for three days I'd be fine... as long as I also didn't have to work those three days.
I rarely take a 100% internet break. We have a vacation coming up where we'll be offline but it's not something we do a lot. We'll do what I call "Internet-Lite" days where I have no problem taking a break from email, work, or even Facebook, but I'll still look up a recipe online or text a friend. I miss having the ability to reach out to people when I got completely offline. I don't text a lot but the people I do text, I'd miss. While I could call them and talk on the phone... I kind of hate the phone. I used to spend a LOT of time on the phone every day for work (hours and hours) and it sort of killed it for me. Now if I can get text you instead of calling? I probably will.
While reading this book I found myself paying more attention to how I used the internet. Was I clicking on Facebook or Hootsuite because I really had to? Or because I was avoiding something I had to do? Did I find my attention wandering while reading a long article? Was I holding my breath as I checked my email? Was I using the internet as a means of distraction instead of writing because, like one person in the book, I had a voice in my head saying "OMG my writing sucks!"? Am I multitasking or switch-tasking?
I discovered when I was avoiding something on my to do list, which was usually something that involved writing, I'd bounce back and forth between tabs almost without realizing I was doing it. It was usually tabs where there could be updates, such as Twitter or Facebook or an admin panel, which might give me something I had to do instead of writing. I don't often hold my breath while checking my email during the day, but I am more likely to in the evening if I'm checking it on my phone because if there's something actionable I'll probably have to get up and go to my computer to deal with it. I switch-task more than I multitask, which is probably why I feel like it takes a long time to accomplish things.
Reading this helped me see where and when I have trouble focusing and how I was sometimes using social media as a crutch. It helped me see I often avoid writing because I think my writing will suck or not be "right." It's not the reason why I think it sucks, but it helps me avoid having to do it. It made me think about meditation, something I flirt with now and then (usually when I can't sleep or am dealing with insomnia) but have never made a regular practice of it.
I guess the best thing I can say about The Distraction Addiction is it made me think. Not everything in the book was of interest to me, but the things that did make me reconsider how I do things or reaffirmed some thoughts I'd had on my own.