I began participating in social media a couple years ago because that's the current wisdom for writers and speakers to "build a platform." I don't know how valid it is but I'm blogging, tweeting and posting comments in an effort to find out. In order to remain true to my mantra about being "connected" and in deeper relationships, I don't just put my info out there. I do my best to engage others, affirming and encouraging as I relate to them. This requires an investment of time, which is a precious commodity (at least to me).
As I watch some of the content and by inference based on frequency of posts, I'm getting a sense that people can become addicted to all of this. I jokingly posted this comment; "They need to invent gum or a patch for twitter addicts" which was widely re-tweeted (copied and passed on), confirming my hunch.
I do know several moms who have had to take severe measures with their nearly-adult sons to separate them from computer gaming. This can be terribly destructive. And worse is something called Second Life, a virtual world where people create new identities for themselves then meet and interact with others as though it's all real. I know one man whose marriage ended when his wife became obsessed with Second Life and began a virtual extra-marital affair (in her false identity) with another "resident" in this world. Whoa Nelly! That's a lot to grasp. (And the pervasive challenge of internet porn isn't even in this discussion)
A new mental illness coined Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is gaining attention by healthcare professionals. So much so that a rehab facility has just opened to treat patients who are unable to control their use of the internet and/or internet-based games. Near Seattle, Heavensfield Retreat Center specializes in recovery for IAD sufferers. This six-week program, costing around $15,000, focuses on helping the person learn to engage in life again (via nature, relationships, exercise, and therapy) sans electronic media.
Are you getting the point? This could happen to anyone and it's insidious. Perhaps boundary-setting about the duration and extent of use is a good idea from the get-go. Maybe even an accountability partner (someone with whom you've agreed to be totally honest) to check in with is worth exploring. And I'm talking about adults. There is no question as to whether these tactics (and more) should be implemented for our children.Here's the challenge: journal or chart every minute you are emailing, texting, IMing, participating in any social network or online game for a seven day period. Maybe we all need to take a step away from the keyboard. Or maybe you don't see any potential problem and believe the efficiency is worth such minimal risks. Your thoughts? If you've used up your allowed internet time, feel free to mail me a letter or wait til next week to post your comment below.