I stopped my reddit addiction by electrocuting myself

Reddit is an amazing site. But don’t visit it. Really. It’s also the biggest time sink on the internet, bigger than Facebook.

Back in July 4, 2016, I declared freedom from Reddit.

For years, I had an on and off again addiction to the site. I particularly loved the WritingPrompts subreddit and particularly Luna_lovewell’s writings. (I apologize for the hours you just spent reading her amazing short stories).

But, really, apart from entertainment, my time spent on Reddit was a waste.

In the past, I had done everything I could to prevent myself from using the site. I have a plugin for Firefox and Chrome blocking the site. I used the computer hosts file trick to make reddit.com not work at all on my computer. I’ve hidden Internet Explorer from my computer (IE doesn’t have a way to block sites).

Annoyingly, it’s nearly impossible to block sites on Android phones.

At the Monastic Academy, we have a number of wearable gadgets to experiment with training. One of them is the Pavlok.

The Pavlok is a wristband to help you break habits by delivering electronic shocks. The best way is to administer the shock to yourself right after doing a bad habit by pressing a button on the wristband. The shock itself is viscerally unpleasant but not harmful. It feels like all of my nerves getting shocked for a micro-second. There are many online stories of people breaking their bad habits like smoking, nail biting, eating sugar, and so on.

I decided to try it out with Reddit. I thought it would take weeks or months to wean myself off of reddit. But it was a smashing success after just one try.

The manual suggests intentionally indulging in your bad habit and then immediately shocking yourself as a baseline. So, I browsed to reddit and immediately shocked myself. And, then, I never browsed reddit again. Just the thought that I would have to shock myself was enough to not browse reddit. Similarly, the idea of having to donate money for each missed post is enough to push me to publish so far.

Well…actually.

I created the rule that I could visit reddit on my free days or vacation days. Here, at the monastery, we get four free days each month and twenty vacation days per year. So, I indulge one day each week on reddit. But, I haven’t visited the site at all on the other six days of the week. And I stoppeed wearing the Pavlok after a month.

In the past, when I’ve quit myself from reddit, I end up reallocating that time into other online distraction like Facebook, Quora, Hackernews, and so on. Indeed, I do find myself on Facebook more but not a significant amount.

Here’s the statistics according to Rescuetime. It doesn’t account for my usage on my phone though. In the past, I’ve deleted FB app from my phone, but it’s so hard when it comes to meeting new people and connecting…

Reddit:

July: 4 hours, August: 1.5 hours, September: 1 hour

Facebook:

July: 6.5 hours, August; 8 hours, September: 4 hours

Maybe, I should focus on Facebook next…

Tomorrow, it’s my 30th birthday!

[ssba]

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