How I found freedom from hellsite addiction
scroll to the end for a recommendation + question
I love tortilla chips. If they’re around, I will eat them until they’re gone. This is most notably a problem at Mexican restaurants where they - and I don’t think this should be legal btw - provide you with a basket of warm, house made tortilla chips AND a bowl of one or more salsas. FOR FREE.
I will consume said chips until the basket runs out and then I will ask for more though usually I don’t even have to ask they just bring you more. ALSO FOR FREE. This is double illegal.
The ‘will they/will they’ way I consume tortilla chips is exactly the same way I use the hellsites of the internet. I define these hellsites as ‘websites and apps you use reflexively and way too often that make your life on the whole worse”.
Being online, in other words, feels like sitting down at the world’s biggest Mexican restaurant with free chips all around that have been custom designed to perfectly fit your palette of anxieties, shames, and desires. Fun!
We all have our own hellsites of choice. In the interest of radical transparency1, here are mine:
On desktop2: twitter, gmail, digg.com (say something, I dare you), reddit, discord, nyt, substack (like so many different substacks)
on phone: twitter, gmail, instagram, whatsapp, nyt crossword, nyt, substack
notable exceptions which I use but are not (as of this writing) problems for me: youtube, spotify, amazon, instapaper, wikipedia
Now look I know the whole “the internet is addictive” thing is by no means GROUNDBREAKING OR NEWSWORTHY: the internet is designed to make you stay put - it’s become cliché to even bring up how addictive this stuff is, like when I hear Tristan Harris (it’s always Tristan Harris who, btw, also got rich af from building these hellsites lol) talk about this stuff on a podcast I’m like dude I know but also the internet is fun whatever BUT HERE IS WHAT'S NEW I THINK MAYBE:
I may have found a way out. Ready?
Ok its an app. AN APP TO STOP OTHER APPS? Yes shut up for like a second and listen.
It's an app and it's called Freedom and I'm willing to shill for it like I've never shilled for anything before because I do feel as though it has sorta kinda like if i'm being honest in a way changed everything.
Freedom did not pay for me to write this but they should have. If there was an MLM where all we did was sell Freedom, I’d join. If Scientology was built around Freedom, I’d say ‘gimme the stress test, L.3’
In lieu of aforementioned pay, I have instead signed up for their affiliate program which means if you decide to use Freedom and pay for it I’ll get a measly payout that will change nothing! But if you do sign up use my link god damn it.
How It Works
First I'm gonna just explain how it works but then I'll also tell you the big new thing I did that actually makes it work EXTRA GOOD. If you wanna skip the next part and get right to the JUICY SECRET then jump down to the section called JUICY SECRET.
The basics of the app are simple yet powerful. You set a 'block list' with all the websites or types of websites that you do not want to access and the duration of time you would like to prevent yourself from access. AND if you have premium which costs $5/month and is worth every penny, you can set the session to be across different devices, so I can set it to block all this bad boy stuff not only on this computer but also my other computer and my phone and my ipad.
And now listen to this: it does a VERY GOOD JOB of actually blocking things. Like I have obviously tried hard to get around it because I am a weak and spineless man but honestly, I can't! Let's take digg.com again - I can't visit it in Chrome, Safari, Firefox NOR THE INCOGNITO MODES ON ANY OF THESE BROWSERS. That means the place you usually go for pornos won’t let you go to your bad boy hellsites!
The Juicy Secret
Ok but now its time for The Big Moment, the one that will bifurcate my life much like the birth of Jesus Christ has bifurcated our sense of time into BC and AD except it will be BF and AF (Before Freedom and After Freedom). Ok, here it is:
I create recurring sessions that automatically block me from using the hellsites for most of the day, every day, leaving me with but a few sparse windows of time where I can hop on and do all the stuff I gotta do when it comes to email, socials, substack, etc.
The game was checkers now the game is parcheesi in other words THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER.
Because you see, when I get on the computer or phone, its like sitting down at a table with a whole bunch of chips. To actively decide to remove those chips once they have been put mere inches from my face, i.e. turn the Freedom app on for a session once I’m already on the world wide hell, that's a near impossible sort of task cuz like wow those chips look so good and I bet I could just eat one OH NO I JUST ATE THREE BASKETS OF CHIPS AND MISSED MY SONS BAR MITZVAH AGAIN.
But to know that the app is already on and blocking all the hell sites for most of the day save for couple small windows? Now that’s a yum (as opposed to a yuck).
I was terrified when I did it. In fact I didn't want to do it and had been pushing it off for months until I told one of my best pals Nate who said, simply and with great aplomb, "why don't you just start today?" To which I said Nate that's crazy I need to perfectly calibrate the times I'll be able to go online and, I mean, Nate, look over there" and of course he didn't look because we were on the phone so he said "I mean you're prob not gonna get it right the first time so you might as well just start with something" and I said "Ok Nate yea obviously its that easy I was just testing you" and we laughed and laughed and laughed. Nate.
And then an hour later I turned it on. Here are the settings I have for mine and so far, so good:
Do I still try to get around it? YES. But Freedom knows about those and lets you turn on additional settings to prevent you from being sneaky like “Disable Quit During Sessions” and “Locked Mode” which doesn’t let you quit a session once you’ve started one.
But if you NEED to end a session early, you can! They give you three little tokens to end your session early in case of emergency. I burned through those pretty fast lol, but they gave me three more! I am pretty sure they will keep giving them to me whenever I ask but its sort of embarrassing to have to ask them which I think they know and that's why they do it that way.
So, yea, I RECOMMEND using Freedom. Will I make pennies on the dollar if you click this affiliate link? ALSO YES.
I hope you enjoy I hope you spend less time on the bullshit internet and more time enjoying your life and, hey, if spending time on the bullshit internet is how you enjoy your life then forget I said anything.
Want more help wanted? Here’s a post from a couple months back about being a parent that many (my parents) are saying is “great but when will you go to law school?”
I want to write more generally about like, the process of doing things - how I write and make stuff and all that garbage but I'm always worried about being yet another voice in the void, like do we really need another "I Wake Up At 3AM Like Jeff Bezos - 5 Tips For You To Also Wake Up At 3AM (And Get Rich)"?
I hate the productivity pr0n that's out there but, at the same time and perhaps because of said bullshit, I think it'd be nice to have some stuff out there as a countervailing force. Something that says hey look here's how it can be done without succumbing to the garbage that pops up on google if you search literally anything. Maybe. We'll see. If you guys want more of this kind of stuff, say so in the comments. If you don't say anything I will cry but I won't do so all day, just during my allotted windows of chip time!
Want to get more of Both Are True directly in your inbox which you should only access for small amounts of time if you use Freedom? THEN PUT IN YOUR EMAIL or even put in a friend’s email lol I don’t care its all scrooge mcbucks over here.
a phrase I often hear lawyers and big wigs say to sound important
yes i use a desktop i’m not a child editing little college movies on his mac iMovie anymore jfc
L is what the homies call L Ron Hubbard. We also sometimes call him Hubbie lol.