Newsletter #407 – The Relationship Revolution

The Internet has immersed us all in a relationship revolution that nobody can escape. That’s the message of the September/ October issue of Psychotherapy Networker magazine. “If you think you aren’t affected because it’s too complicated, a time drain or boring, then think again. Your kids, parents, friends, clients, and citizens around the world are already swimming in the digital stream. You can’t stop the river. Even if you never join Facebook, never read an online newspaper, or never send another email, the steam engine of digital technology will continue to affect you,” according to the magazine. Thought-stimulating articles discuss issues like the Internet’s dangers and the new possibilities for connection, conversation and innovations in therapy, education and business.

Earlier this month I went overseas and purposely left my computer and cell-phone at home. I avoided Internet cafés and took long peaceful walks by the sea. I also read the Networker article on Internet addiction and thought of friends back home who can’t sit through a meal or a class, walk down a hallway, drive a car or even go to the bathroom without checking their messages. For many the Internet and social media have become “a form of cybercoke” even as they provide never-ending sources of stimulation, information and connection. How do we tap into the advantages of the digital revolution without the addiction, stresses and information overload that so often revolutionize our lives and relationships?

  • Admit the ease with which we can become addicted. Think how many people you know who can’t get along without their cyber connections.
  • Recognize the dangers of multitasking. The research is clear: multitasking makes us feel sharper and mentally efficient but in reality multitasking imposes “continual distraction and interruptions on our brains so that we can’t think deeply, keep focused, or work efficiently.
  • Set limits on Internet use. If we receive information 24-7 our brains have “no time to relax or change modes.” Turn off timers that alert you to new messages. Select a schedule of times when you will check messages. Then stick with that plan.
  • Please comment on how you control the Internet.
  1. Not sure I control it well but this post is a strong reminder I need to sabbath more often …

  2. Even though we often get criticized by friends and family for not being available, my wife and I decided long ago to not be slaves to the phone, email, texting etc… It frustrates people to no end; and at times we are probably being pretty selfish, but our quality of life is not determined by getting the most done or connecting with the most people… You could argue that our system is flawed,and it is because we are flawed; but choice is a beautiful thing that we all enjoy. So choose your slavery well!

    • Bruce Zoeller
    • October 28th, 2010

    Gary,
    I appreciate what you write here. Perhaps people have become so insecure or have lost their foundation for living that they go along with secular media to establish their identify and value in being constantly available and connected to everyone.
    I believe what they fail to realize is continual interruptions marginalize the relationship in front of them with each check of the phone or text reply or other interface other than the one God would have them focus on at that time. And as you mention, you cannot think deeply (or plan strategically)without a lot of silent time allowing for internal reflection and processing that is often part of our unconscious mind working.

  3. Wow! Thanks for this short and sweet post Dr. Collins. My husband and I are seriously considering what God wants us to fight for when it comes to relationships and how to control the internet in our lives and the constant flow of information that surrounds us. I believe the face-to-face connection is still always going to be the most genuine, most pure form of relationship there is…

  4. Thanks for the much-needed reminder. Maybe a “communication fast” is just as much needed as a food fast.

    Another concern is that the more “connected” we are with people, the more shallow the relationships.

    • Hope Hurlbut
    • October 31st, 2010

    Dear Gary,
    I know I am not a multitasker, so I don’t even try to do that. I thought it was due to my age (retiree age), but found that there are those half my age who also cannot multitask.

    I try to limit the time I spend on family and friends’ emails, and give priority to work-related emails. Even so I am being “snowed” with emails, and am gradually getting further and further behind. Part of the problem is that in my current situation I need to drive 7 miles to the library for internet access. There is no internet available in our area.

    So far I have managed to avoid facebook as I do not have time even to do regular emails. I plan to get off one of the lists I am on, as it is no longer pertinent to my current work.

    I find the Internet to be both a blessing and a curse!!!

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Hope

    • Martha Greene
    • November 1st, 2010

    FYI. Marcus Buckingham in his book, Find Your Strongest Life, What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, stated that research shows that multi-tasking reduces you IQ by 10 points!

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