I have often credited the internet with saving my liver. If I hadn’t found such an incredible community of support online I’m not sure that I would be sitting here today so comfortably sober – five years away from my last drink. Most of my sober friends & support systems are online, and every single day since I put down the bottle I have been reaching out through my keyboard to find strength and inspiration.
Since September 6th, 2011 I have Blogged, Tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed up a storm. I have written and read thousands of blog posts and articles, shared numerous photographs and links, listened to countless talks and podcasts, and left hundreds of updates and comments.
Open All Hours…
I have a smartphone attached to my hip and a laptop open all hours of the day. I have an Instagram account, a Twitter account, two Facebook profiles and a Facebook page. I have two blogs, a home email account and a work email account. I am also employed to manage and run a large and vibrant online community – writing all of the original content for the site and moderating the member interactions daily.
The internet is my job, my support system and my lifeline. Going online for me feels tempting, warm, exciting, fascinating, enriching, and rewarding. It lifts me up, keeps me engaged, feeds my brain, fuels my soul, and boosts my ego.
But I have to be careful. I have to manage myself around my internet usage. Otherwise I can be left feeling disconnected from real life. I can not pay proper attention to things that are happening around me. My emotions can be played with if I see things that are hurtful, annoying or enraging. I can get sore eyes, sore wrists, a sore neck.
Setting Rules & Boundaries…
So slowly over the past year or so I have been working on setting myself rules and boundaries that make my internet usage work for me. This is me being a work in progress! Learning as I progress in recovery how to take care of myself and those around me.
I never internet surf in the bedroom. My devices are put onto charge in the kitchen and are left there overnight until I am up and dressed the following morning. This way I ‘clock off’ from the internet in the evening and ‘clock on’ the next day. Over time this ‘clocking off’ has extended to my TV watching in the living room before I even head to bed. It took a bit of getting used to, but has been great and the more I do it the more I realise there’s nothing that I’ve missed overnight (nothing that can’t be caught up on anyway).
I have turned off roaming data on my phone. Most days I spend the majority of my time at home working or parenting etc, with our home Wifi keeping me connected. But when out socialising or with the kids at their activities I was using roaming data to keep obsessively checking my online spaces (unnecessary and not a good look). Just recently I have turned off roaming data for all apps on my phone so it is now literally just a phone for calling and texting. This is a hard adjustment – I keep instinctively reaching for it to check things! – but I’m slowly losing that impulse and feel so happy about it.
It’s really interesting when you start forcing internet breaks to notice how little you are actually missing out on.
Taking a Cyber Holiday
I have taken ownership of my Social Media feeds. I am very good now at editing my follow lists to ensure they work for me. I’m honest with myself about my emotional reaction to content and am quick to unfollow any person or organisation that shares stuff I don’t like. If a celebrity regularly shares pictures of themselves drinking I will unfollow them (that’s only going to serve to make me feel left out). If a neighbourhood friend of mine keeps posting their 5pm wines on social media I will unfollow them. If the sight of another healthy food blogger’s kale smoothie only serves to make me feel like a fat pig I will unfollow them. My social media, my way.
I am taking a complete cyber holiday! Next month I am travelling with my extended family to a tropical location to celebrate my mothers’s 70th. I will be going completely off line for the entire week – the first time ever since I got sober. Am I nervous about this? Actually no. I can’t wait. I will read books. Swim. Interact with my family. Relax.
And the internet will still be there when I get back.
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