The internet is an integral part of our world today. It enables us to obtain knowledge, maintain connection with friends and family, and, for many of us, it plays a huge role in our daily work routine. However, for all its incredible benefits, the internet can be a slippery slope to navigate.
In a society constantly buzzing with motion and information, we’ve become dependent—sometimes to an unhealthy extent—on technology. We have smart phones, laptops, iPads, and more, all within arm’s reach at all times, and this level of dependency often turns out to be more of a hindrance than a help—especially when it comes to functional creativity.
The Effects of Addiction
In many cases, we’re so attached to our lives online—particularly through social media, that we panic when we lose touch with the world. Becoming detached is akin to a small crisis. What will we do if we can’t log in to Facebook for the afternoon?
This addiction to connection; to constant intake and stimuli, has negative effects on three primary aspects of our lives:
- Our real-life relationships
- Our brains
- (and as a result) Our creativity
- Interference with productivity and real-life issues
- Diminished self-motivation
- Easy distractibility
- Decreased cognitive control
Due to constant information overload, our minds become overstimulated, creating a lack of focus, shorter attention spans, and lower productivity rate. As a result, it’s much more difficult to find the motivation to do the hard but fulfilling work of creating.
The Signs of Addiction
Perhaps surprisingly, internet addiction can have many similar signs and symptoms to drug or alcohol addiction, such as:
- Withdrawal and Cravings – If we can’t access our smart phone easily, we get restless, searching for something to ease our boredom. If we’ve been at work all day, the first thing we do when we get off is log onto Facebook. When we’re left without access to the internet and social media, we crave it.
- Social Sacrifices – Often, as a result of online chats and forums, our relationships in real life suffer. Now, I don’t want to dis internet relationships too much—(my husband and I were long-distance for our first nine months of dating)—but we’ve got to be careful not to sacrifice real-life social activities in constant favor of online interactions. This can be damaging to our real-life relationships.
- Dealing with Problems – Many times, we feel we need the internet/social media to help us deal with our problems. A coping mechanism of sorts. And while it can certainly be a great informational tool, relying too heavily on it for emotional purposes can be dangerous.
- Denial – Sometimes we may find ourselves denying our reliance on the internet, or making excuses for it: “I need to use social media for my job!” But according to AdWeek, between 60% and 80% of our work time is spent on idle internet browsing, rather than anything actually related to work.
- Obsession – AdWeek also tells us that 28% of iPhone users will check their Twitter feeds before getting out of bed in the morning. Can anyone say “obsessed”? Not only do we rely heavily on the internet out of necessity, but we’ve grown increasingly obsessed with it, to the point of prioritizing it above saying good morning to our spouse or family when we wake up.
Fighting the Addiction
As I’ve mentioned, the internet is a great tool for staying connected and getting work done. It gives us countless advantages over past generations, but with those advantages come disadvantages as well, and it’s important we fight back against the addiction. A few ways we can begin to do so are by:
- Acknowledging the problem
- Unplugging and/or getting outside more frequently
- Spending time investing in real-life relationships
- Reading more books
- Starting a new creative project
- Limiting recreational internet use to a certain time or place
When we’re intentional about fighting this nearly-constant addiction, we’re able to clear our minds of unnecessary clutter and make room for restored, intense creativity. Are you with me on that?
- Have you felt internet addiction taking a toll on your life and creativity? Can you give examples?
- What is the #1 thing you’re hoping to accomplish in your personal life this year? Do you feel that internet addiction may be standing in the way of achieving that goal?
- What are some ways you can (or have) personally take action to fight internet addiction?