The Internet is an interface to the world.
In terms of self-reliance, the Internet is arguably the most important invention since the knife and the wheel. Never before in all of recorded human history has a single tool made so much available to an individual. And yet, despite the powerful role it plays in increasing our self-reliance, the Internet would not exist without everybody else.
There are two ways to tackle distraction: avoidance and mindful practice. If you're distracted by a tool like the Internet, don't cover your eyes and disconnect until it's no longer a source of distraction. Instead, understand the nature of your distraction and practice changing your relationship to it. Use mindfulness to practice self-control and willpower.
Are you online or offline? Are you connected or disconnected? Are they your online friends or offline friends? Which persona do they know you by?
I believe the online/offline duality is an unnecessary, even dangerous, concept to live by.
Relating to the world, and to each other, in terms of real and virtual, to our presence as online and offline, and to our state of being as connected and disconnected, simply removes us from the real reality: we are here.
We are all here. When I communicate with you online, I'm still connecting with you.
When I go about my day, I don't differentiate between being 'online' and 'offline'; I'm just me, here, living in the now. I may use different tools at different times for communication, but I'm still one person, communicating in one reality, in one universe, with one group of human beings.
Sometimes I connect with people in different physical places and sometimes with the people right in front of me. But they're both in this world; one isn't less real than the other.
The Internet is a medium for communication. When we see someone standing several hundred feet away, do we consider them less real than if they were standing in front of us?
When we pick up the telephone and call someone close to us, do we feel alienated from that person, as if they're not quite real?
The medium for communication can change, but that doesn't change reality. There is no duality.
A very cool map of the Internet's undersea world: http://tinyurl.com/2n4mz6