Addiction to various offerings of the internet be it games, social media, meaningless videos designed to entertain and numb you or stalking profiles of people has happened for various significant reasons. Unless we get to the cause we may never really change all that much.
1. The internet came in like a natural disaster. There were warnings, predictions of sorts and also opinions about what it could and could not do. While we were still working on dial up connections we did not really expect such a storm. So after the devastation the rebuilding is needed. Most people who use the internet did not anticipate so much of usage and did not realise the toxic power of passive entertainment and fake personas.
What would you like to rebuild? Do you have a dream? Can you create and build on one real idea that makes you feel alive?
2. The inherent emptiness and boredom within many people who lived without a vision for life and were comfortable with the fixed mindset and the stereotypes that fuelled the success trap that many are still trapped in drove entire generations into internet addiction. When there is no drive to strive you dive into the most meaningless things and build a rosy narrative around them. Each generation has had its challenges. Some had the kitty parties, others drinking binges and some others the television soap operas and the internet.
What have you done about your boredom? What narrative have you built around it? How would you like to change that?
3. The internet was projected at an increase in social standing and status that many craved for. It was also easy to project fake ideas and information with not effort and build an audience of equally jobless losers unlike in the past where you were noticed only if you were good. Biases and nepotism always existed and still the ones like the sun never stopped shining. Now we have many fake spotlights and many believing to be the sun while sourcing their energy from everything but themselves unlike the sun that depends upon itself.
What do you project on the internet? What do you want people to see about you? Why do you need an audience for it? Would your own attitude to that part of you change your need to project this false OT fake self?
4. Just like financial literacy and planning are needed for a healthy economy and for healthy living internet usage and online time need to be seen like currency and usage must be clearly budgeted. Most parents unable to regulate their own internet addiction end up hooking on their children to gadgets too and manage to find relevant research to believe that this is beneficial for brain development or excellence. However true research and real life experiences point to the opposite direction. As therapists we see more atypical patterns and developmental deviations because of the internet. Just like the word “pocket money” was used in earlier generations for youngsters to plan and take responsibility of their needs we need to set very stringent limits for internet and gadget usage and become aware that as parents it’s OK to be hated for doing the right things.
What connection rituals would you like to set up with family or friends to make meaningful offline relationships work? To remove internet addiction the best way is to nurture meaningful relationships in real life that don’t need selfies and pictures to go up for others to like and comment upon.
5. Deep within the psyche we have been made to believe that to compete and win is more important than to collaborate and grow. This is the single most potent reason for people to get onto gaming and winning often against people they do not even know and get onto social media to outdo others. To add a simple anecdote….. A couple in therapy, who cannot even go through one sentence to each other without being abusive, rude or mean end up online striking a pose hash tagged Love of my life. Their relationship was on the rocks because what they project and what they are can never match and the inherent disappointment in themselves leaves them Projecting hatred on each other instead of becoming aware of the flaws and dealing with them effectively.
What lack in you do you cover up in competition? How would you like to address it?
6. Numbing. Hard times and disappointments visit us all and several times in a lifetime. The internet is a wonderful smoke screen that helps us avoid what we need to deal with and stay in denial, self pity or in equally meaningless states that prevent healing and growth. The numbing made possible by the internet helps us skim on the surface of life without ever dealing with the fragments of our selves trying to find integration and wholeness. What comes up instead is fake Yoga posts and detox recipes that never help unless awareness is a part of the process.
What would you like to deal with today and for 60 days from now ? What has the pain come to teach you?
Take a few moments today to reflect on the questions and see if change will help. We can together rebuild a life, a dream, a relationship with the self.