When one thinks about addiction, the first things which pop up in mind are sex (porn), alcohol, cigarette and drugs.
Regarding sex, usually it is seen as a good thing, unless you are a man and you practise it alone (aka masturbation). While women praise and even encourage such behaviour among themselves, men somehow condemn such activity, especially if we take into account the more “masculine circles”.
And in general, it makes total sense, as masturbation not only decreases our testosterone levels but also increases our levels of frustration, social anxiety and even social alienation.
Yes, to see that hot blond taking two big black mambas in her anus will just give you a false notion of reality and bore you when you will be dealing with “normal girls.”
Concerning alcohol, the discussion around is usually much wider. While some reprobate it vehemently, others claim that drinking it once in a while makes you healthier, being also a very powerful social tool.
Both arguments make sense, but I tend to agree more with the first group, as alcohol not only fucks you up in the long run but gives you also a false sense of power, as you become more loose, open or even bold only when it is running in your veins.
And what about smoking? In regard to this point, even the smokers themselves admit that it is a harmful activity to their health (even if some argue that you can also die from many other things). However, because it is so addictive, they can rarely stop it.
Plus, and this is something which applies obviously to the guys, it is a powerful tool in case you are out and you want to meet new girls – yes, it works very well as a social connector and also as a natural opener.
Last but surely not least, it is time to talk about drugs. Of course that alcohol and cigarettes are already drugs themselves, but in this case I am talking about such things as MD acid, crack, cocaine or heroine.
Regardless which type of drug are we talking about, its effects usually put the individual feeling like superman, where he truly believes that “everything is possible”. And it is exactly this excitement, thrill and happiness that make people so addicted to drugs, making them wanting to go back and experiencing that great feeling as soon as possible.
So this article could end up right here, right? No, my friend, because nowadays there is a kind of addiction which is spread among the whole world and age groups, going from your children to your grandmother, that is way more harmful than one may think in the first place: the internet.
Except for problems related with child porn, terrorism or security breaches, most people do not talk about a problem which is serious affecting everybody and can ruin lives much faster than eventually any of the addictions referred above.
Yes, internet addiction is real and has many forms, so today I am going to talk about its dangers, something which may not look so evident in the first place but which may be seriously jeopardizing your life, without you even realizing it:
When in 2004 her breast was exposed during the Super Bowl, Janet Jackson was far from imagining that this incident was the Eureka moment which led to the creation of YouTube.
And what started as a simple site to share videos, is nowadays the biggest online content platform among the whole world-wide web. As you know, you can literally watch everything, from the dumbest videos with cats to live seminars about the meaning of life.
And while most people check it for leisure, being obviously the perfect tool to procrastinate all day long, there are some who use it to learn and to develop themselves.
The problem with YouTube is not the content itself, rather the distractions and suggestions which exist all over the place. And even if you are watching the most interesting documentary or learning how to increase your sales in Amazon, there will always be something else popping up which you will be tempted to open.
For instance, imagine you are watching how to do your first 50k on eBay, and on the side bar shows up how to do your first 200k with half the work. So before you know it, a couple of hours have passed and none of the work you should have done was actually done.
Welcome to the mother of all online addictions. If you would remove all the rest from the internet but still keep the email, it would certainly keep everyone online.
It is funny how, about twenty years ago, the email started to replace the normal post. But while many believed it would eventually die within some years, it is nowadays more alive than ever! And why is that?
See, the email is like your door bell: since your house is such a personal thing, anytime someone rings your bell obviously you will check who is there to talk to you. The problem with the email is that people are ringing your bell every five minutes!
So it is easy to get distracted and, sooner than later, you will be staring at your door (inbox) seeing who will be the next person contacting you – while putting all the other important stuff you have to do in the background.
In addition, because email is used for everything, from personal to business contacts, from purchases to newsletters, you have an endless world to be checking the whole time.
Social Media (as a user)
You may be one of these who says “Nah, I just use Facebook to reconnect with old friends or to check some events nearby”. And what about Twitter? “No, I only follow influential guys who can teach me something and improve my life”. Oh, and Instagram? “I only use it to promote my side business”.
First of all, you can now stop all the BS and listen to what I have to say. People like to find all the possible excuses to explain a certain behavior they have and, concerning social media, the pretexts behind it would fill an entire book.
Concerning Facebook, you may say that you just check its messenger but the twenty times you open it per day will make you look at other stuff as well. And before you realize it, you will already be scrolling down the wall or looking which hot chicks will go to that party on the weekend.
Regarding Twitter, you may indeed be following successful guys who can turn your life better. But the fact that you are always waiting for the last Tweet, and then commenting, liking and retweeting it every ten minutes, makes that in the end you create this habit of constantly distracting yourself.
Last, in regard to Instagram, you may indeed use it to promote your guitar gigs or your street wear business. But in between, you receive likes and you check who is checking you (especially those “interesting” girls whom you would like to meet aka bang). And before you know it, you have lost the last two hours jumping between profiles, drooling over those sexy bodies.
Social Media (as an “influencer”)
Right now you must be thinking: “Oh but I am on the other side. I am an influencer, a producer, and therefore I only engage in productive activities which have nothing to do with this procrastination or addiction Pistol is talking about”. Well, not so fast pal!
If checking social media as “a user” already gives the individual a good feeling, imagine the release of dopamine and serotonin when you see dozens, hundreds or even thousands liking, commenting and sharing your content. Oh yeah, that is one of the most addictive things on the planet!
So without even noticing it, you will be posting, updating and tweeting every quarter of an hour, just to make sure that your audience will not miss out anything. And while you may think that you are obviously adding value, most of the time you are just feeding your ego.
Yes, I have just said it. While you are releasing tweets every hour, filled with platitudes and buzz phrases, many times you are just doing it to keep you on the map.
The same when you are releasing long motivational posts in Facebook: the motivation itself is fine, what is annoying is that you are reminding us about it every hour.
And concerning your gym photos in Instagram, we get it that you are in shape, but a couple of pictures, not fifty, are enough!
Last but surely not least, it comes the father of all addictions. While all the others referred before can suck your time and make you procrastinate, this one does all of that with the plus that it also ruins your bank account.
In the past, to go shopping was completely different. You would need to take a shower, to groom yourself, to leave your house and to take a bus or drive your car to the nearest commercial area. It was like a ritual which people would not do so often, actually very rarely in most cases.
But what do we have nowadays? Just a simple click, without moving an inch of your lazy ass, and magic, you can have everything you ever wanted delivered directly to your home and arriving just within a couple of days (or even in the day after, if you have such services as Amazon Prime).
It is so easy to get into buying mode that sometimes, before you actually think whether that purchase will be wise, you will have done it already.
First you check a website, then google gives you other suggestions on the sidebar and before you realize it, you will already be comparing prices among four or five different platforms.
And while in the beginning you were just looking for a $50 cool watch you knew you needed, right now you have already on your basket one costing $200, two pullovers and three t-shirts in another website, and a pair of amazing boots in your Amazon’s shopping cart!
Look, internet addiction is very real and can completely tear your life apart. And the worse is that no one is immune to it. You may think that you are stronger, that you have a solid foundation and that you are not like everyone else, but in the end you will also be exposed to its dangers.
I am a lover of soccer shirts, but I had never bought more than a couple. But lately, due to a serious of circumstances in my life and because I have found myself really feeling down, I ended up buying many more than the ones I really wanted in the first place.
Of course that I like them, that they look good as a collection piece and that I did not pay much for each one of them. But do I really needed them? No, it was just a result of being on the skids and relying on something superficial to make me feel better.
So regarding any topic of this list, do not think that you are special. Therefore, these are the best tips I can give you to keep you away of entering a spiral of vice and addiction which can eventually lead you to a very depressing, dark place:
First, forget about watching music video clips. Instead, select a list of music you like and only listen to it when you are doing any activity which does not require concentration (shaving and taking a shower, working out, drinking wine with a girl, etc).
Regarding funny videos, don’t even think about watching them “to distract yourself”, unless you have intentionally taken some time off.
Lastly, concerning those self-improvement videos and helpful stuff, you should watch them in any case, but stick to one per day or to when you will be having your meals. Otherwise, you will get into a spiral of knowledge which will be very difficult for you to stop.
Unless you are waiting for a shipment (you shouldn’t, check point “Consumerism/online shopping”) or an important reply regarding a job or a business agreement, then you do not need to be checking your email regularly.
I know how tempting and addicting it is to see whether you have a new message, but it will only bring anxiety and put your mind totally unfocused.
“Hey, but if someone writes me something urgent?!”. Trust me, it will never be that important and people can wait more than you think, even when the email comes as “top urgent” (it usually is, in the perspective of whom sends you the email).
So from now on, check your email in the morning, after lunch, in the end of the afternoon and after dinner. With these four periods not only you will cover all the possible times of the day but they will be more than enough to reply to people/customers, without leaving them upset.
Social Media (as a user)
You can argue that you are not like most people who are just following and liking silly things in social media. But before you do that, just think about the more-than-likely terrible habits you still have, which you urgently need to throw away.
In regard to Facebook, check it only once per day (seriously) or on an exceptional basis, in case you are looking for some cool events nearby.
Concerning Instagram, I know how tempting it is not only to upload some photos and wait to see if you get some reactions (dopamine trigger), but especially to check which girls have liked your pictures and will follow you. So before you come up with various arguments, be honest with yourself and use this tool once per day as well.
Finally, in terms of Twitter, this is eventually the tool you can use the most, as you can extract useful and constructive content from it. Still, you do not need to be checking it every ten minutes, as you will lose yourself among Tweets and Retweets. Like the email, do it four times per day.
Social Media (as an “influencer”)
As a public figure (or almost) and someone who is impacting other people’s lives, you have almost the duty to be active and to keep these followers interested and thrilled to read your content and watch your next video.
Nevertheless, as many things in life, less is usually more, so I believe you can moderate your presence, in order that it does not become tiresome.
So starting with Facebook, surely that once in a while you can release a long post which will influence many. Or eventually start a discussion around a topic in the private group you have with your followers. But make sure you do it just a couple of times per week.
Regarding your Instagram, release some cool photos (a couple per day is more than enough) which also relate to your life and occupation, otherwise you are just adding clutter to your profile. And regarding answer to messages and comments, you can perfectly do it just twice per day!
Finally, regarding Twitter, the favorite platform of bloggers and online creators, make sure that when you tweet something, you are doing it because you really want to express yourself or to say something important, and not just because “you need to release some content”.
Therefore, even if you are the most interesting guy in a world, I believe more than ten Tweets per day are simply too much (plus a couple of retweets).
Whatever is the platform, just remember that your homepage/blog should be where you write and release your content regularly, while the rest is just a way to attract new followers and keep the existing ones interested.
First you have to understand that, whenever we are talking about acquiring goods, the border between what you really need and what is disposable/superfluous/extra is usually very thin.
We may think that we really need to buy something when actually we do not need it that much. It is one of the most relative things one can think of and therefore there will always be a bunch of different opinions on this topic.
For me, in order that I keep my mental sanity but also financial health, I always start from a utility point of view. “Is this item going to add something significantly which I do not have already?”.
Let’s take an example of a mp3 player plus headphones (yes, I use those in the gym, to avoid distracting myself with my phone):
I have a Philips USB MP3 Player 4gb , which cost me around 30€, and a pair of headphones which cost me 15€. I have been checking another MP3, which has apparently better sound quality and has the double of space (8gb), and I am more than tempted to buy it.
But then I think: all the music I want to listen in the gym can be stored in my current 4gb mp3, while the sound volume is more than enough to be concentrated on my training. Therefore, I have prevented myself to buy it, because I do not actually need it!
On the other hand, since my headphones started playing just from one side, then of course that I needed to buy a new pair, because there was a real need of replacement.
At a second stage, there is this will and desire to buy things which, quite honestly, you do not actually need. And here is where things start to get danger. So I recommend you to prevent yourself from a possible rampant consumption by using “rational limits”.
For instance, you can buy new sneakers, but only acquire a pair which is in a different colour from the ones you already have. The same with a jacket, a watch or any item you can think of.
In addition, you can also set price limits saying that, whatever you see, you can not buy anything above a certain price (with the football shirts, I put myself a limit of buying not more than one per team and that each would not cost more than 35€).
First of all, if you don’t see any of these things as an addiction, at least you know that they take most of your time, constantly distracting you from the priorities you should be focusing on.
And in today’s world, these temptations are everywhere: from your smart phone to your computer, from endless events to online stores, everything is made to disconnect you from the things you should really care about: yourself, your business, your improvement, your family, your friends and your relationships in general.
That is why I consider internet a drug, because it can suck up all your mental and physical energy. But while many of the “old-school” drugs can be avoided, because their negative consequences are already widely known, regarding internet the topic is quite fuzzy, as you will be using it also to work, to study and even to make money.
That is why you need to be really careful and recognize when you will be deviating yourself from the “normal path”. Because internet can be so addictive as any other drug, giving you spikes of dopamine and short-spanned good feelings, which will make you constantly asking for more.
Be especially attentive whenever you face a low point in your life, as you will have the urge to rely on what the web can give you, just to compensate your mental and emotional weak state (yes, internet is the quickest tool you can grab to make yourself immediately feel better).
Therefore, just be humble and recognize your weaknesses, nipping the problem in the bud and avoiding any possible, harmful consequences. Even if you see yourself as a “strong person”, you have probably gone through all the five “online” addictions I have referred above (I have surely gone through them all, so I know what I am talking about).
So do not think that you are better or stronger than the majority: if you live in this world and you have access to the internet, you will irremediably be exposed to these risks.
But like most things in life, it all depends on you.
So the next time you are about to check YouTube or Twitter for the hundredth time a day, just remember to check yourself first, before you eventually wreck yourself along the road.