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Most days I spend at least 2 hours online, reading the blogs I follow (and leaving comments), tweeting on Twitter, dropping in on Facebook, checking my email accounts (all 6 of them), adjusting my reading list on GoodReads, and blogging. On days where I have the available time, I might spend 4 hours online. Putting in that kind of time leads me to wondering whether I’m addicted to being online. Aren’t we Americans supposed to be addicted to something?

It’s a niggling worry and has me analyzing what I used to do before we had a high-speed internet connection in the house. Last week, I wandered past my father-in-law while he was on his computer and caught him playing Solitaire. Ah, computer Solitaire! I remember you so fondly. I easily spent a half-hour on this game before I would begin writing and another half-hour after. I no longer play Solitaire, which means I’ve shifted one time-sucking behavior to another.

I watch less television now that I’m online, not that I was much of a television watcher to begin with, but still, it’s another time shift that I can account for. Now that my children are older and very self-sufficient, I’m not having to do any nose-wiping, snack-retrieving, story-reading, bed-tucking, or hustling-out-the-door. I’m also not making so many artistic things. This is primarily due to a philosophical shift in my creativity. If I make “things,” then I’m putting more stuff into the world that uses resources and takes up physical space, which means I have to figure out how to deal with these items on an organizational level. Instead, my creativity has shifted to writing, which I do plenty online.

In continuing my analysis of this situation, I started listing the sorts of things I get done alongside my internet activity. Here is a partial list:

The laundry gets washed, dried and folded.

The dishes get done, whether by hand or in the dishwasher.

The groceries get purchased.

The children are fed.

The litter boxes get sifted.

The garbage gets taken out to the curb.

The job gets attended to.

The bills get paid.

The music gets heard.

The love gets made.

The conversations get had.

The cats get pampered.

The showers get taken; the teeth brushed; the nails clipped.

The books get read.

The events get attended.

The friends and family get visited.

The files get organized.

The house gets cleaned.

The stories get written.

And, yes, sometimes the television gets watched and things get made.

When I’m online, I’m partaking in two of my favorite activities – reading and writing. Perhaps I’m rationalizing, but being online opens me to ideas for my writing and also gives me a daily writing practice, something I once had a longing for and now have.

Adding all this up, I’m pretty sure I’m not addicted in the true sense of the term. And here’s the clincher: If I’m on the computer too long, I get sick of it and have to walk away.

How do you compare? Do you think you’re addicted to the internet?

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