The internet - can virtual relationships really replace real-life connection? Image courtesy of dreamstime.com
Yes, the Internet.
“Just half an hour more.”
“I will not look at my email again today.”
Yet, there you are, still on the internet after one hour, and you have checked your email three times, not once…
From those Facebook checks, to that game where you just want to reach the next level, to seeing if your email has been replied to yet, even though you checked half an hour ago.
You’re aware that the internet has a hold on you, but everyone does on everyone right? It’s not like a true addiction, where you are harming your health…or are you?
The question is, do you spend more time on the internet than you would like? Would you say you have almost a compulsive need to check your Facebook status, or email account? If you don’t check, do you constantly think about it, and almost feel anxious or unsettled until you do? Are you neglecting things which should be attended to, like eating well, cooking or exercise because you are on the internet? Are your relationships suffering because of the time you spend on the internet? Most tellingly, do you deny that the time you spend on the internet is even a problem in the first place?
The good news is, unlike some addictions that yes, a compulsion to use the internet is not as harmful. Secondly, and yes it is probably almost universal… but your quality of life may well be suffering nonetheless. Except for when being online is part and parcel of your job, yet cutting down your internet use by even half an hour per day may dramatically improve your life, and make it healthier…
1. When we communicate by Facebook or email, we are missing out on those true connections with friends and family, where we can meet face-to-face, and we can discuss things we would not do in the public arena of cyberspace. We are beginning to lose touch with non-verbal cues, as we rely on smiley faces and lol instead of recognising and giving out real smiles. It’s also much easier to take things the wrong way when we communicate electronically. I think it is estimated that seventy percent of our communication is non-verbal. Which means when we communicate electronically, we are only doing it approximately thirty percent effectively.
2. We may improve our health. Instead of spending that half an hour on the Internet, how about going for a walk, or spending time in the fresh air…
3. We could spend that time with our family. I don’t have children, but in a way, my cat is like my child. When she gets absolutely sick of me being on the computer, she will plonk herself on top of it, and will not move. If I try to budge her, she will bite. It’s her way of telling me “there’s life out there besides your computer mum” - in other words me! Then I go to the couch and she hops on top of me and purrs as if to say, “this is more meaningful, isn’t it?”
4. Like any compulsive need, if it is controlling us (if you answered yes to most of the questions above), than we can’t help but feel we are not in control of our own lives. Just like that cigarette you have to have, Internet addiction takes away the consciousness of choices, and makes them more automatic.
5. We lose balance in our lives. Our lives our balanced when we have time for personal nurture, structure, relationships, spirituality, work and health. The only area that internet addiction serves is possibly relationships, but only in a superficial way.
When you find yourself ‘having’ to use the Internet:
1. Allot yourself a set amount of time to use it for that day, and stick to it.
2. Make sure you have a balanced life. Plan your day so that you are also looking after other areas of your life.
3. Make one real connection per day. Make a phone call, visit a friend, or catch up for coffee.
4. When you desire to use the Internet, ask yourself if you really need to, or are you just bored or acting out of habit? Are you desiring something else like communication and validation? Can you achieve this outside of cyberspace? Are you procrastinating?
Internet addiction is so common, it is hardly seen as a problem. It might not be harmful, but try a week of limiting your time, and see if that balance you might not have experienced in a long time comes back.