Email Addiction, BlackBerry Orphans and Your Internet Addiction Disorder

• Email addiction, BlackBerry addiction, Facebook addiction, plus
• General Internet Addiction Disorder and total information overload

• Not your problems ...?
• Not the problems of people you know ...?
• Or ...?

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Developing Modern Addictions

Can you picture this scenario? A well dressed man, probably an office worker, gets to his feet in a room full of people. He says:

"My name is John, and I am addicted to email!"

Yep, it's kind of funny. But it is also kind of realistic. People DO get addicted to email, there's no doubt about it (not in my mind anyway). They also develop Facebook addiction, Blackberry addiction, Twitter addiction, MySpace addiction and what has been termed Internet addiction disorder.

(Yes, I know that there is still dispute as to whether or not there is such a thing as an Internet addiction disorder. My point is that we have problem, individually and collectively. What we choose to call it seems less important).

In short, the problem is that people get an addiction to information in general and to 'feeling connected' via technology. Maybe you, too, have got these problems? If you (honestly!) don't have them yourself, chances are you know someone who does.

The general opinion is that 'you need to be connected and informed about everything all the time' and so our society more or less encourages these kinds of addiction. We are actively becoming information addicts.

The reason this is a problem in the first place is because of the results these addictions are generating ...

The results of Email Addiction, Facebook Addiction, Internet Addiction Disorder, etc.

The results are these:

Normal, healthy people become scatterbrained, and develop an attention deficit. They can't focus on anything for more than a few minutes, and they gradually become unable to think deep thoughts and be creative. The quality of both their work and their life experience declines.

Another symptom is that 'information overload management' becomes a phrase people actually use (I'm not kidding!).

Yes, even a phrase like 'BlackBerry orphan' comes into use. What a BlackBerry orphan is? Well, that would be a kid who has serious trouble getting the attention of his or her parents because they're busy with their BlackBerry all the time.

For those who don't know, here's a link to Wikipedia's article about the BlackBerry smartphone - one of many devices that allow people to check their accounts on social media and, well, generally be an email addict who can get a fix (almost) anywhere at any time. Even at the dinner table, in bed or on the toilet.

For those who don't care what a BlackBerry, smartphone or, say, MySpace is: Good for you! :-)

The smartphone may be smart in a technological sense of the word, but it also blurs the line between work time and social time, and it certainly feeds people's email addiction.

What is an Email Addiction?

Having an email addiction simply means that you can't leave your email account alone. You've got to check it all the time to see if someone, be that a customer, a colleague, your boss, a friend or a family member has contacted you via email. Checking your email every few minutes isn't uncommon. That's email addiction for you.

As you can see, it's also decidedly unhealthy.

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.

~ Carl Gustav Jung ~

Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados are both called users?

~ Clifford Stoll ~

What is Information Overload?

Alvin Toffler, an American writer, thinker and futurologist coined the term 'information overload' sometime during the mid 1960s and it refers to the amount of information available being so huge that we are unable to process it. As a result we sort of blow a fuse and shut down mentally, emotionally and sometimes bodily, too.

Back then Mr. Toffler was mostly talking about the future. Well, today, in most parts of the world, we're living that future. And it turns out he was absolutely right. We do have information overload.

If you're living somewhere in the West, just think about the amount of junk that comes into your home through your physical mailbox. To say nothing about the piles of junk email that arrive in your inbox every day - or worse, the amount of junk that you hear on the radio and see on the television.

Not only are these things a waste of your time, they are also damaging you. In more ways than one.

Junk In, Junk Out

A computer programmer friend of mine sometimes uses the phrase 'junk in, junk out' to describe what happens when you feed a computer lousy data.

Well, the same thing applies to us human beings, only worse, because unlike the computer we actually slowly become the things we are taking in. Not a hundred percent, obviously, but we do take on certain aspects of our intake. The way that applies to YOU is this:

Feed yourself enough junk, and you yourself become junk!

This goes not only for junk food, but for junk information as well.

An example: Several people I know suffered from varying degrees of anxiety, and guess what? When they stopped watching horror and splatter movies, they got better. Surprise, surprise.

Put fear based crap inside your head and guess what kind of thoughts and beliefs you'll develop? Yeah, crappy, fear based ones. And if you've been reading info on this website chances are you know what the effects of fear are. They're not nice.

Information Overload and Email Addiction Equal Stress

Research shows that when you're working on something and you are interrupted, it will take you a long time to get back to the thing you were working on.

If you're trying to write, say, an article or a report and you've got and email addiction that makes you check your email every two minutes, that will not only interrupt your writing for a brief period, no, once you actually get an email, you'll open it and relate to the content of it. Perhaps you'll even reply to it.

With an email addiction chances are this will happen not once but many times while you are working.

Result: Your thinking and writing process is completely interrupted, and it is a safe bet that your end product (here: your article or report) will be of a lower quality than it would have been had you not allowed yourself to be interrupted.

The same goes for general information overload. Like I noted above, a condition of overload causes a shutdown. Your brain does this to protect itself.

This condition is also known as stress. Talking from experience my take on stress is simple: Stress makes you stupid. .

'Positive Stress' is Pure B.S.

Some folks, particularly leaders and executives, talk about 'positive stress'. This is nonsense. There is no such thing.

Yes, it's great when people go that extra mile, but no, it's not great if they are stressed. There is a profound difference between being positively motivated and being stressed. Being positively motivated means you want to attain [LINK] something. Stress, on the other hand, is based on avoiding something [LINK]. Stress is fear based. Need I say more?

If you have ever been around someone with the extreme kind of stress called panic you'll know what I mean. People who are in a panic are mindless. They are stupid in the extreme and will do things that make no sense what so ever. Even things that could potentially kill themselves and others around them.

I know, because I have experienced this a number of times - and never more often than during the period when I was working as a so called dive master helping people who wanted to go scuba diving for the first time in their life.

This work gave me the perfect opportunity to watch a person's level of stress rise while their ability to listen, understand and act fell - right up until their brain and emotions performed a total shutdown and the mindless and dangerous state of true panic set in.

Dealing with Email Addiction:
Two Basic Approaches

So, then, how do you deal with email addiction (and the resulting information overload)?

The answer is as simple as it is provocative:

Remove the stressor (stress factor) and change your beliefs.

Remove the Stressor

What I mean by 'remove the stressor' is simple: Your email (and most likely your entire information intake) is stressing you, so remove it. No, you don't have to move to Nepal and live in a cave, no BlackBerry allowed. Just cut down.

Start by turning off automatic 'pings' or 'you've got mail' notifications.

If applicable, continue by changing the setting for how often your email software should check for new mail. Make it half an hour at first. Then, make it one or two hours. Then make it whatever period suits you best.

If this isn't an option for you then make accessing your email difficult. Start by making sure your email program does not automatically start up when you boot up your device. Then, remove any shortcuts to your email program or email website.

Chances are that there is no REAL reason to check your email more than every three to six hours.

In fact, depending on your situation, chances are that you don't need to check it more than once per day or even just once every couple of days. But perhaps this is for the advanced folks. :-)

Change Your Beliefs

What I mean by 'change your belief' is this: Currently you believe that you get something positive from your behavior (which is checking your email too often / having an email addiction). Change that.

We humans are social animals who like to connect. Getting and writing emails is a way to connect.

If you have an email addiction you probably (unconsciously) believe that checking your email allows you to connect more. It makes you feel important and in touch. That belief has to go.

This approach might include such things as life coaching [LINK] or learning about letting go of your belief.

One very powerful first step in removing that belief is checking what lies underneath your belief. You want to know what my guess is? Low self esteem.

Yup, the only reason you need to feel important and in touch is that you subconsciously believe that you aren't important and aren't in touch. So actively doing something to change your self concept [LINK] and improve your self esteem [LINK] is a really good place to start.

You can then continue by working directly on your belief that you are getting something good from checking your email all the time (having an email addiction). Enlist the help of a professional, like a coach, guide or a therapist, or learn about consciously letting go.

You CAN beat your email addiction!

Tags/keywords for this blog entry include (but aren't limited to): email addiction, internet addiction disorder, blackberry orphans, facebook addiction, alvin toffler, dealing with information overload, blackberry addiction, myspace addiction, blog, inspirational sayings, inspirational thoughts, inspiration blog, self esteem, overcoming low self esteem, beliefs, behaviour, mind, behavior, letting go, good quotes, personal development, self improvement.


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