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Fear of Going Off the Grid

I’m going on vacation next week. A real, total-veg-out vacation at an all-inclusive beach resort. I’m shutting down my office and my brain. I haven’t taken a vacation like that in 20 years.*

The resort has in-room WiFi, but I’ve decided to cut myself off and leave my computer at home. No working. No googling, no Facebook, no Twitter, no blogging (look for guest posts next week). Radio silence.

It sounds great, right?

Then why does the thought fill me with anxiety?

Am I addicted to the Internet?

I found Young’s Internet Addiction Test, the first and most commonly used psychological testing tool for a new and still-debated problem. Is it an addiction? A compulsion?  Are people just addicted to the same things in the digital world as gets them in the real world, i.e. porn, gambling, shopping?

Research on internet addiction is still all over the place, with not much standardization of term,  tools, and methods. And the Young test was developed in 2004, before smart phones became human appendages and changed us yet again. It probably needs an update.

Still, I went ahead and took the test, and am happy to report that I am not addicted to the Internet.

Maybe not, but I diagnose myself as highly dependent.  Some of the symptoms:

  •  My laptop remains open and active while I watch TV.
  •  I have started carrying my phone in my hand rather than in my purse.
  •  I put my phone on the table next to me in restaurants. (In my own defense, I don’t text a lot, so it’s not constantly chirruping, like some people’s. Mostly I like it nearby to look stuff up when questions come up during conversations. It’s only for medicinal purposes.)
  •  I need blocking software to cut me off from the Internet in order to get things done.
  •  I’m sometimes late for stuff because I always have to do “one more thing” online.
  •  Sometimes even when I’ve decided to get away from my computer, I find myself drifting back.
  •  The thought of cutting myself off scares me.

You see my concern.

And it’s not only the Internet I fear going without. It’s the computer itself, since I can’t imagine going five days without writing anything. I produce a lot of words over the course of a week. Even more than losing the Internet, I’m anxious about not being able to put my hands on a keyboard for a week.  Maybe I’ll resort to writing by hand. Writing addiction? Is that a bad thing or a good thing?

I have no idea what my brain will feel like after five days on a diet of nothing but books and margaritas. (And sun and water and beach and food.) Sometimes I close my computer while I’m watching TV and am surprised by how much calmer my head feels immediately. My brain practically cramps when I try to imagine five days of that.

It’s a bold experiment but I’m willing to take the risk. See you on the other side.

 *Yes, as a travel writer I travel often. Yes, those trips are wonderful. No, they are nothing like a vacation.

Fear of Going Off the Grid

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APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2011). Fear of Going Off the Grid. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2011
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