Internet addiction: It’s come to this

Today, I’ve got a virtual valet, courtesy of Fred Stutzman, who came up with the Internet-blocking program, called Freedom, as a graduate student, when he needed to finish his dissertation. For a one-time fee of $10, you can tell it to shut off your portal to the outside world for up to eight hours, and are discouraged from cheating by the fact that disabling it requires you to boot up your computer anew.

Stutzman has since sold his program to more than 75,000 people, and gone on to design a new venture, called Anti-Social, which, for $15, shuts off your access to top time-wasting sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, StumbleUpon and even EHarmony, DateHookup and OkCupid. “You’ll be amazed what you can get done without the distraction of friends,” he promises, without any obvious hint of wistfulness.