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For anybody interested in diving deeper into this subject, I would recommend reading The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. It was written in 2011, but is still very applicable today. Brain plasticity is a real concept and our constant connection to the Internet affects us.


Very scary and I do get a sense that my recall ability and general focus is severely diminished after a decade of being active on reddit and other places like here. The problem is I'm on this dopamine treadmill. I see a thread with an interesting topic and a lot of comments, and I want to dive in and spend an hour sifting through it. I check my subreddits and HN every day.

And for what? I get nothing out of it, maybe a little pissed off every now and then. Most articles I read are forgettable and have no impact on my life. There is literally nothing that I've learned on the internet over close to two decades of use that I couldn't learn more thoroughly with a book or by looking at a newspaper, and in recent years it's been getting impossible to find actual factual subject information on the internet that isn't some half assed SEOified article that doesn't even have my answer.

I think I'm just gonna pull the plug and block these websites with some browser extension, because I am just too compulsive at this point, too engrained into this automatic unconscious action of cmd+t->news.y->tab->enter to do it under my own volition. Sometimes I sit down and I don't even remember opening HN, but there I am scrolling through the front page.

I still need the internet for emails, stack overflow, or finding articles in my field, but that sort of use I will allow because I take that information and synthesize it into something novel and useful. I'm going to pull the plug on being a mindless internet consumer, who leaves no time for actual thinking in between the rampant consumption.

Good bye, HN, hopefully for good but we will see how long I'm able to remain disciplined. I'm kinda excited about what sort of mental clarity this might bring me and how much that will improve my life.

Good luck to you! I feel all of the sentiments that you mentioned in your comment. Here are some tips for you that have really helped me:

- Turn off auto-complete on your desktop browser. The "cmd+t > news.y" or "cmt+t > r" is a real catalyst for mindless browsing sites like Hacker News and Reddit.

- Uninstall apps like Reddit, Facebook, or Instagram on your phone. If you really want to access them, then use the web experience through the mobile browser. It's enough to get the job done, but not good enough to be addicting (no auto-play videos, notifications, and the UX is slightly degraded).

- Turn off all non-pertinent notifications on your phone, especially things like news, email, and social media. The only daily apps which have I notifications enabled for me are Messages, a sports app, and daily habit reminders.

- If I feel like I'm using a social media site too much on a laptop, then I change the hosts file to re-direct to localhost. Bam, access revoked for a while. I've found that this works better than browser extensions. With extensions, I used to just right-click > disable, then go to my time-wasting website. With the hosts file method, I need to figure out the path to the hosts file (I never remember it), open it in a text editor, type in my changes, then save the file with sudo permissions. I thought about scripting it, but I think the manual process is more effective at preventing me from constantly enabling/disabling access. There's more intention behind the action.

- Pay for a newspaper subscription. It's so refreshing to consume quality journalism vs trendy click-bait articles. My recommendation would be read one national outlet (NY Times, Wall Street Journal) and your local newspaper. Instead of browsing Reddit/HN in the morning, open up your newspaper app.

Second this recommendation, I enjoyed that book very much. However, I felt defeated by the end, because I couldn't act on the presented information in any meaningful way.

Halfway through the book the author tells about how much he had struggled to write and had to isolate himself from technology for a while, but only temporary. He then came back and felt the "shallows" once again.

They did a good follow-up with the author on the Ezra Klein Show podcast a few months back: https://www.vox.com/podcasts/2020/7/1/21308153/the-ezra-klei...

Oh, this is great, thank you.

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