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.