Digital Despair

In my time on Earth, I have formed and broken many addictions. There is one, however, that remains persistent and seems to become harder and harder to shake off. The internet.

I start out with healthy enough habits. I made a Twitter account to post about game development. I browse youtube to watch videos. I joined Discord to join communities.

But these become more and more habitual as time goes on. I check Twitter constantly for notifications, even when I rarely get any. I start watching Youtube shorts whilst using the bathroom. I go on Discord all day, every day.

I refresh the same pages over and over, constantly wasting away, wasting my time, doing things that bring me no enjoyment.

I am a relatively mild case, if you browse Reddit's NoSurf page, a subreddit dedicated to encouraging healthy internet habits, you will see how truly addicted some people are to their screens.


Internet addiction is far from a modern problem. The internet has become more easily accessible, and more companies have dedicated resources specifically to making their sites addictive. But my problems start when I was 11.

I joined GameFAQs to talk about games. You're supposed to be 13 to open an account, don't tell anyone.

GameFAQs is kind of a ghost town now, but at the time it was thriving and I had fun browsing and talking. Eventually I discovered Random Insanity, a social board. There were new threads constantly and I could have a never ending stream of things to look at.

Eventually I discovered the underground world of board hunting.

You can pick a gaming system, something old like the NES, and start clicking through the message boards to see what you can find.

This sounds pretty dumb now, but it was reasonably popular at the time, like being in some sort of secret club.

I would stay up long past my bedtime hunting boards.

This culminated in me having a gazillion accounts to bypass the two messages per minute posting limit, managing a board that required a post in every thread every day to prevent posts being deleted.

And for what?

I was early on in my teenage years and spending my entire life doing this. One day it hit me that it was completely insane.

I changed my password to some random string of numbers and letters, thus meaning I was completely unable to login if I wanted to, and closed the website for what I hoped would be the last time.

Watercolour image holding a phone infront of a desert

Going Without

This escalating pattern has haunted me time and time again. Habits start small and innocent, but then they build and build. Before I know it I'm cycling through the same websites, refreshing the pages over and over, seeing nothing new.

I have to break the cycle. Every time I do, I feel my brain starting to repair itself. But then, it creeps back in.

Breaking the habit feels strange. I log onto my computer, then realise I actually have nothing to do, because I no longer have the websites to mindlessly refresh.

I know what I'm like though, I have go 100% cold turkey on this for it to work.

As is so common with the cycle of addiction, you think you're healed, allow a little in, then eventually you're back where you once were, addicted once again.

Moderation doesn't work.

I drafted this article long ago, as I was trying to make changes.

Spoilers: I ended up back where I once was, as is always the case, and the cycle will probably repeat once again.

Every time I go on Discord I just feel empty inside. What once were thriving communities during the covid pandemic when everyone was inside, working from home, now feels like ruins.

A once in a lifetime opportunity to make new friends and chat with people, now gone.

It feels like a wasteland.

I feel like everyone else can use these sites healthily, in moderation. But I can't, it just makes me feel bad.

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