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Blocking My Reptile by Stuart McMillen comic. Anthrax Among the Living album cover parody. Cartoon man in middle of crown of smartphone users from high angle.Comic with man cycling to work, and arriving at desk in office cartoon. Every weekday I leave my house and cycle to an external office. Within the office, I have pre-set systems that block me from accessing the web before 4 p.m.Cartoon of man addicted to the internet, clicking mouse. I have adopted this web-blocking system after struggling with self-control in the past. Left to my own devices, I find it all too tempting to be sucked into an infinite loop of email-checking, website-surfing and feed-scrolling.Cartoon about internet addiction. I find that if I check online news, or a Reddit thread at 9 a.m., a seed is planted, and I will feel a compulsion to check and re-check throughout the day. So my solution is to avoid the temptation by severely rationing my internet use. I block myself from even being able to make the first click.Cross-section of man, showing human brain with 'reptile brain' inside. You see, we are each of two minds. We each have a rational mind, that consciously plans our decisions. And we each have a reptile brain that acts in instinctive, impulsive ways.Man trying to get to work at desk, distracted by raptor dinosaur. Our reptile brain unravels the best-laid plans of the rational mind. It is the reptile brain that scouts for ways that we could slacken off and surf the web in the middle of a work day. Therefore, we must use our rational mind to disarm the reptile brain.Angry man, deliberately frowning at dinosaur next to him. In my case, I use my rational mind to block my reptile brain's internet access before 4 p.m. My sober, rational self shrinks the reptile’s ability to misbehave in the future. After all, I’m in the office to work, not to waste time. I use my rational mind to precommit to the importance of work. With the avenue of impulse closed, my rational mind is free to concentrate.Office full of people distracted by smartphones and internet addiction. While you are busy Tweeting, and YouTubing during the day, I am blocked from the web. So, instead, I get to work.

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For reflections on my personal reasons for blocking the web, please see my blog post Choosing an internet-blocked daily routine


Comments

Mike

30 June 2017

Hi Stuart, I love your work, and regularly use Rat Park in the classes I teach as my area of expertise is drugs and addiction. I just read your short reptile brain piece, and I think you are capturing a concept that too many of us struggle with quietly or in secret. On a personal note, I would love to know how you block your internet use until 4pm, ie what you use to do that. On a more technical note, I am a bit worried that you used what appears to be the cerebellum to characterize the reptilean brain. Although that part of the brain is old, it is mostly involved in movement and coordination. My research actually fully supports the point you are making but we tend to think of this old impulsive part of the brain as subcortical, but not cerebellar. In our case we argue that it is in part the mesolimbic dopamine system and is involved in 'wanting', which is distinct from traditional wanting, that instead involves our more rational plans and goals. Our primal 'wanting' system is what becomes sensitized in addiction and makes those urges compulsive and overpowers our rational mind. Anyway, not sure if my rantings are of much use, but I thought I would share and again thank you for Rat Park and your amazing work. Best, Mike.

Chris Andrews

30 June 2017

Good point!

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