I work from home and find that my daily default, for the first half of my day, is sitting in front of a computer screen.  I putz around answering emails, then get absorbed in a Facebook or LinkedIn post, and the surfing flurry goes on from there.  Many days, I am totally unproductive. Something about passively staring at a screen saps my energy, but I often seem unable to pull myself away.  As a writer and program developer, creativity is my currency, and time on the computer often leaves me feeling bankrupt.

One antidote to my Internet Disorder has been proving increasingly effective: getting out of the computer chair and simply doing something else.  While this may sound simplistic, it’s not easy for me.  Honestly, I am writing this blog more for myself than anyone else.  If I leave a written record online of my intention to “stop the Internet insanity,” I am more likely to follow through, if for no other reason than my deep sense of guilt.   And let me tell you, it is deep, a jagged chasm in my soul created from twelve years of Catholic school!
When I get out and do something completely different, I often return to the computer ready to use it for constructive purposes, like finishing my book, writing a blog, working on video scripts, and dozens of other positive pursuits.

If you are at all like me, take a few minutes now and write down a list of things, at least twenty, you need to do, or things you’ve been longing to do.  Here is my list that I am making up right now, so that it’s authentically in the moment.  I try to make up a list like this every day (some items carry over).

  1. Go to the Polish Market.
  2. Go to the café at the Detroit Institute of Arts .
  3. Take a 20-minute walk through the neighborhood.
  4. Run down and throw in a load of laundry.
  5. Iron the shirts in the laundry room that have been sitting there for three weeks.
  6. Do twenty push-ups.
  7. Make up and send invoices I have been putting off.
  8. Go to the drug store and buy toothpaste (which I have been out of for a week!).
  9. Make a list of workshop topics for 2016.
  10. Set dates for workshops for 2016.
  11. Go to the tile store to pick out bathroom tile.
  12. Call contractor about bathroom tear-out.
  13. Call Martin and ask his advice on hiring an assistant.
  14. Plan winter vacation now so that I can get better rates than my usual planning at the last minute.
  15. Drive to Tim Horton’s and get a latte.
  16. Take notebook into the yard and brainstorm on book project.
  17. Take five minutes to stretch using yoga postures.
  18. Write a thank-you note to friends who had me up to their summer home, and gave me REAL HUMAN INTERACTION.
  19. Spend ten minutes working in the yard (I HATE YARD WORK AND AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE).
  20. Spend ten minutes cleaning out my car, which is an absolute pit.

For the record, after number 18, I zoned out and went back on Facebook for a while until I realized, perhaps five minutes later, what I had done.  Take a few minutes now and make out your own list and follow it.  Comment on this blog and become part of a community of people who are all in this together, all trying to use the Internet to expand their potential instead of wasting it.  I cannot seem to do it by myself.  If you are having trouble in this area, don’t try to do it alone.  Tell a friend what you are up to and see if he or she will support you.  You may just need someone to check in with once or twice a week.  Make no mistake, for many of us spending too much unproductive time online is a serious problem that requires commitment, focus, and plenty of support.  Do not try to do it alone, but DO get your butt out of that chair, NOW!

NFL Player Discusses Addiction

I had a lengthy phone discussion today with an NFL defensive lineman, Quinn Pitcock. At first glance, the two of us could not be more different. But, striking similarities emerged in the first few minutes of conversation.

Like me, Quinn has struggled with depression and anxiety and views his video gaming behavior as an attempt to escape and avoid. He told me about the time warp that gaming puts him in, causing disruptions in his sleep. “I would get up at 3pm,” he told me, “and basically play until 7, or maybe even eleven the next morning. This would go on for days, and then I would crash for 18 hours at a time.”

Quinn seemed most troubled by the distance his video game behavior put between him and his friends and family. “I moved to Indy by myself and had more free time,” he said. “I started declining offers to go out to eat out or to movies. My gaming became the most important thing in my life.”

Quinn recalls always being drawn to electronics, even if it was just playing computer Solitaire while he talked on the phone with friends. But the Xbox Live was the Siren that drew him in to addiction. So often I have seen cyber-oriented people lead relatively stable lives until they discover the perfect cyber storm. For me, it was Age of Empires and other such Real-Time Strategy Games that snatched thousands of hours from my life.

Just like I had shown great promise with my 4.2 grade point average, Quinn was a superstar high school football player who went on to become an All-American defensive lineman at Ohio State. Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, he had a promising rookie year in 2007. But something was brewing deep inside Quinn that he did not fully understand. While driving to the Colts training camp in 2008, he abruptly stopped his car, turned around, and retired from football. “There was just a lot of stuff going on inside me that I did not fully understand,” Quinn said. “I used video gaming as a definite escape from reality.”

Something shifted, however. “Some voice inside of me just said enough is enough,” he said. “I decided to get treatment.” He threw out his Xbox and has been getting the help he needs. He tried out for the Seattle Seahawks but was cut from the team a week ago. I can tell you that I sensed a seriousness in him and think he has a great shot at returning to professional football. He also wants to get the word out about the dangers of the cyber world. That was the driving force in his agreeing to talk to me. We haven’t heard the last from Quinn Pitcock. He is a man with great gifts and passion and I believe he has a great future ahead of him now that he has gotten this problem under control.  I will be following his successes and keeping readers in the loop.

  • Catch Kevin’s book signing at Border’s in Birmingham, MI on October 29, 7PM.