The real problem, other than the obvious and unarguable laziness, loneliness, and anxiety this over-dependence can and does cause, is that most people don’t even realize when they are addicted. This is because everything on the internet is not bad–not even close! I am confident that I can find every single thing that has been a part of my school curriculum for the past 21 years online; maybe I wouldn’t have the life knowledge, common sense, (or “street smarts”, as some would call it) that I do now, and maybe I wouldn’t know how to be open minded or communicate effectively with others, but I could still have every ounce of knowledge I do now simply by spending enough time on the right websites online. I am a firm believer that a good search can provide at least part of a solution to the majority of problems people encounter on a daily basis. I could never emphasize enough how much great knowledge from some of the world’s most intelligent and successful people is truly out there, if you know where to look.
Today, I spent four continuous hours surfing the internet with no particular goal in mind. This was when I realized that I am not addicted to my cellphone, but rather, to certain forms of technology, television, and the World Wide Web. The idea of having anything and everything I could possibly ever want to know all at in the palm of my hand is just all too overwhelming. I thought social media was more than enough, but then there’s different forms of social media, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, news sites, quizzes, life advice, health tips, how to do this and that and even articles on how to stop being addicted to the internet and spend more time outside, living life, and interacting with others. What’s more is that I can simply Google the answer to any of my questions, see anyone else’s life on Youtube, or Snapchat my own life to everyone that I wish to interact with. The internet not only has information about the world and its people, but also endless information about the power of the universe and beyond; no matter how many things I look at, it will never even come close to 0.0000001% of what is available out there.
So what does this all mean and where can I go from here? I hear the first step in curing an addiction is admitting you have a problem (which I ironically learned online) and I could easily go google a simple solution to this very problem and post it right here on the internet. But instead, I will set a time limit on how much time I choose to spend daily on the internet, and even television and movies, or games for that matter. It is most important for me to realize that these things are not real, not natural, cannot possibly bring true happiness, love, health, or even the wisdom and self discovery that can come only from the experience of living life itself. It is a great advantage of our time to have such a magical wonder, as cheesy as that sounds, at our disposal any day, anywhere, anytime, and I do not want to take that for granted. Instead, I want to use it wisely, and appreciate it when I use it as a reward and something to look forward to, and not get so lost inside of it that I forget to live a whole life as part of the society around me. Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I try to avoid getting attached to material things, and the one that I am attached to the most, is the most material of them all. The internet is unarguably one of the most powerful innovations of the world today, but it carries as much harm as it does benefit.
Don’t get me wrong; a little bit is totally okay! I am so grateful to blog about everything that matters to me online, download music that warms my soul, google the answer to 99% of the questions I’ve ever asked, respond to notifications on Facebook from friends I have not talked to in a while, and curl up on the couch to watch an episode of brain-cell killing reality TV on Netflix after a long day of school. All I am saying, is that the whole start-and-end-your-day by checking all 8 of your social media sites, spending your eight hour work day trying to best the next level of crush, snapping your friends every meal you eat as your only social interaction for the day, and spending your only day off work catching up on as many season of breaking bad as possible in one day, might just be taking it too far. You may not agree with me, but if nothing else, it is certainly something to think about and in keep in mind the next time you are at a party and have the option of looking through someone else’s memories or really connecting with new friend and making your own memories.
Remember, most of the things most people spend the most time on are not real. What’s real is the faith you feel in your soul when you drive in the warm sunshine with the music up and windows down, and know that everything just may turn out okay. It’s the love in you feel in your heart when you see a small child help an elderly woman without expecting anything in return after you’re sure you’ve lost all faith in humanity. It’s the true happiness you experience after seeing the spark of hope and a genuine smile on someone’s face who was once broken, and knowing that you were the one who helped put it there.