Escaping on the internet
Frequently in my profession, I have come across clients who are escaping on the internet to find excitement and new adventures to spice up their “boring lives”. Although there clearly are some merits to this strategy, there are many pitfalls too. I decided to write this post to share some stories and give others perspective on escaping on the internet.
1) Escaping on the internet to meet new people
The motivation to meet new people, for whatever reason, is varied. Some do it because their marriage or live-in relationship has become lacklustre and they crave the excitement of flirting with someone new. Some do it to find support for similar situations that they may be going through. Most people don’t enjoy monotony and will seek out new ways to get thrills, to feel alive. The problem with escaping on the internet is that our focus gets taken away from the reality of our lives and is directed in to a fantasy world. I have witnessed this happening many times and the trouble begins when the reality and the fantasy begin to collide. People become more disgruntled and unhappy with their real lives and ‘buy into’ the ideas and offers that the fantasy online world promises them. Going online to fix boredom at home when it comes to romantic relationships is never a good idea. When the focus shifts from finding solutions to our real lives to the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure on the internet, the downward spiral begins. Problems in real life do not miraculously disappear and active problem solving needs to take place to change things. Consistent escapism is as far from productive solution-seeking as is possible.
2) Gambling on the internet
It’s all about balance and we all need to find temporary ways to escape the stress of life. This approach is healthy but the pursuit of pleasure can become addictive. Who wouldn’t prefer to find pleasure than deal with unpleasant problems? Online gambling is fine when it is well managed but when the urge to gamble becomes overwhelming or obsessive, the slippery slope begins. Someone in a relationship who is gambling frequently will be giving less time to their partner. I know of many couples who rarely eat dinner together and who rarely even spend time together in the evenings due to one partner’s gambling habits. They lock themselves away and the relationship suffers. It is not uncommon for couples to lose everything they own due to wayward gambling habits. A sad but common place event.
3) Social Media
Facebook is becoming a top reason for couples separating. Increasingly, couples are coming to see me to try break their addictive social media habits. Repeatedly, I hear stories of couples sitting in the same room whilst both on their laptops, ipads or mobile phones. This is the crazy world we live in. We spend less time engaged with our immediate surroundings and more time finding out what others are doing who aren’t even present. Facebook eats into valuable quality time together. It is also a way to spy on each other and Facebook has been responsible for divulging information such as infidelity and dishonesty in relationships on a regular basis. It nurtures paranoia, insecurities and jealousy. Learn to switch off and adopt a mindful approach to life -that means being more present in your real life – engaging your senses. Listening, smelling, touching, tasting and feeling – that is what makes us feel truly alive.
The internet has revolutionised the way we live and has helped us in so many ways. It is up to us to manage it and use it to work in our favour rather than allow it to take control of us.