Thursday, July 19, 2012

Does the Internet Drive Disorders/Depression, or Vice Versa?

This is quite the article, titled "Is the Internet Making Us Crazy?"  Apparently, there are others as well--(I haven't read the one referenced here yet)

I agree with the studies citing that the internet totally feeds on our OCD and ADD tendencies, but do the OCD and ADD tendencies engender heavy internet usage?  Page 3 of this article talks about the possible "fix" that we get from checking email and social media.  It's like a drug or gambling addiction.  And it lowers our attention spans; we don't even fully read longer blog posts, articles, etc,  because we're already fishing for the next fix (I nearly didn't read the whole article when I saw how long it was). Yet we can't seem to stay away. Page 5 of this article calls this "FOMO," where we are "utterly unable to look away for Fear Of Missing Out."

And this just after I watched the following commercial the other day.

So funny!  But also very pointed that our social media frenzy (mine included!) isn't living.

("I read an article--well, I read the majority of an article online. . . this [facebook] is living...that is not a real puppy!  That is too small to be a real puppy. . . .")

I do love the connections with family all over, and people I know from all the places I've lived, and also about three friends I've never even met IRL (In Real Life).  Rob's got bunches and bunches of internet friends, and we've slowly met them IRL whenever we happen to travel close enough to any of them.  He's a hermit, but a very social hermit, haha.  He, and they, hide out online.  What an oxymoron.

It's interesting that page 4 says that even when they realize heavy internet usage can increase depression and loneliness, "they have repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to cut back. But if this is unhealthy, it’s clear many Americans don’t want to be well."  Um, yeah.  We like feeling connected.

I'm a little irritated with the studies that say that there is such a connection between heavy online use and mood disorders, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.  We had plenty of that before the internet.  And I was plenty OCD and ADD before the internet.  For instance, the following comic made me lol at myself years ago, possibly before the term "lol" existed:

Which one causes (or brings out) the other?  The internet, or the disorder? But I do agree that internet use often displaces sleep, exercise, and face-to-face time.  I agree that "Technology can make us forget important things we know about life." But, I also posit that technology can help remind us of important things, and keep us connected to loved ones far and near.  I love some of the inspirational phrases I read on fb and pinterest.  I love the connection to other people.  'Course, I was a people person looooooong before the internet existed to the public.

I do wish the end of the article had gone in more depth to how we are the shapers of our internet use, and how to keep our minds emotionally and socially healthy.  Or that it had at least linked to an article with suggestions on healthy internet use.  Since internet use is now like eating.  We can't not eat, even if we are addicted to foods that hurt our health.  Yet dieting is hard because we can't go without food completely, like an alcoholic who decides they simply can't have a single drop of their vice.  The internet is like food now; we can't imagine not internetting.  We communicate via email/fb for business, familial & friend connection and recreation.  I can't imagine going back to only snail mail.

Still, this opened my eyes that I should cut back and pay more attention to how I use the internet.  Ahem.  After I finish reading all your emails and blog and fb posts. . . .  And bury a few hats online and off.  ; )

(And for the fun of it, here's an article positing that the "making us crazy" trend stories are what are making us crazy.  Hehe.  Though it does point out that we are affected by our heavy internet use)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Why is it that we are so quick to be hard on ourselves, to see everything we didn't do right, didn't accomplish; every way in which we aren't good enough?  Why do we fixate on our insecurities, comparing our worst (even if known only to us) to someone else's perceived best?  (And by the way, that someone is also comparing their weaknesses to my strengths, just as I can only see their good and my bad)

I was skimming some tips for raising happy kids.  Laugh with them (check), be positive (check). . . until I came to one of the 10 suggested tips:  Foster self-compassion.  Wow.  So simple, yet so cathartic.

 It's interesting that while the article is focusing on how to raise happy kids, this tip is aimed at the parents:   "Parental guilt is its own industry. . . ."  Said another way, guilt is its own industry.  I've been working on this for years now, inspired by a husband who has helped me understand how damaging the guilting is, the beating myself up for every way I don't measure up to a fictitious, impossible standard.

Sometimes I'm really good at it, and other times little thoughts creep in and whisper, "Oh come on.  You know you're not good enough.  You'll just mess up again. . . ."  And for a brief time, before I kick that stinkin' thinkin' to the curb, I believe it.

Here is the advice itself:
"Research suggests that self-compassion is a very important life skill, helping people stay resilient in the face of challenges. Self-compassion is made up of mindfulness, the ability to manage thoughts and emotions without being carried away or repressing them, common humanity, or empathy with the suffering of others, and self-kindness, a recognition of your own suffering and a commitment to solving the problem. Parents can use self-compassion when coping with difficulties in child-rearing. In doing so, they can set an example for their kids."

I really think that guilt and frustration over things are only productive if they inspire us to try again tomorrow, like Anne of Green Gables, who loved each fresh new day, a new slate to write upon.  If we let them bring us down, then we're just trapped in this cycle of believing we're not "good enough," as if there's a realistic standard of what is or isn't good enough.

What I like about this little paragraph on self-compassion is that we are not asked to deny or repress frustrations over unmet expectations, simply faking it 'till we make it, or pretending it's all ok (which only causes us to feel like a fraud on top of everything else).  Instead, it's just a way of trying to be kind to ourselves.  To step aside for a moment and look on with a third eye, mindfully managing our thoughts without falling into complete hopelessness (which usually means binging on chocolate and other vices, am I right?  For which we have even MORE to agonize over when tomorrow we realize how far off the diet we fell, on top of all the other ways we blew it).
I can look at my own woes and insecurities, failings, weaknesses, unmet expectations (especially the ones where I am the saboteur), recognize that life is hard, and then be nice to myself and realize that life is, well, REAL.

I really want to focus on helping my kids learn this beautiful skill of self-compassion, but I like that this article infers that if we as parents practice self-compassion, our kids may be generally happier.  

Well, in between their whining and complaining about housework, anyway.  : )