Novelists fight Internet addiction

Freedom and other software help scribes like Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers control their compulsive Web browsing

Topics: The Fix, Internet, Internet Culture, addiction, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, ,

Novelists fight Internet addiction
This article originally appeared on The Fix.

Internet addiction can be especially harmful for those who make a living through intense focus—such as novelists. A number of esteemed writers including Nick HornbyDave Eggers and Zadie Smith have come forward to admit they are powerless over the endless distractions of the Internet, and to name a new solution: two software programs called Freedom and Self Control. These are computer applications that can be downloaded and configured to increase productivity by completely blocking Internet access at specific times. Smith, whose new novel NW features a character addicted to online message boards, thanks these programs in the book’s acknowledgements “for creating the time.” Novelist Ned Beauman says he finds the web is “good in egalitarian terms that all that information is [available] for free, but the Internet is definitely pandering to our worst instincts.” To protect himself from its siren song, he utilizes an intricate method of restriction to block “virtually all newspaper and magazine websites as well as blogs and Twitter.”

the fix

You Might Also Like

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet is not only distracting—it is actually altering our brains, says Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember (2010). In his book, Carr says that whereas in the past humans had a more focused “linear mind,” the advent of the World Wide Web has caused our minds to demand information in “short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts—the faster, the better.” The Internet can also be especially distracting for writers who work in isolation, says Oxford University Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield, who argues that internet provides an addictive feeling of comfort and validation based on contact with other people. “The worst thing for human beings is not getting attention,” she says. For some novelists, even computer programs like Freedom and Self Control don’t provide a strong enough barrier. Will Self has been writing the first drafts of his novels on a typewriter since 2003 and calls himself a former web addict. “It fulfils the criteria of addiction, which is obsessive mental content connected to compulsive action,” he says. “The machine itself seems like a paradigm of the addictive state. I can see it as something that needs to be put down the way an alcoholic puts down drink.”

More the Fix

  • Hurricane Katrina was my rock bottom

    As Hurricane Isaac bears down on New Orleans—exactly seven years after Katrina struck—a recovering heroin addict recalls the 13 dark days she stayed on in the city
  • Cult culture and the 12 steps

    A small but significant number of 12-step groups—from AA to addiction treatment centers—turn into dangerous cults. How can working the program take a wrong turn?
  • Mitt Romney’s big drug problem

    What drug policy would Romney issue from the Oval Office? He’s not saying. But his financial ties to the owners of teen rehabs infamous for abuse speak volumes of trouble

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>