Email addiction, BlackBerry addiction, Facebook addiction, plus
General Internet Addiction Disorder and total information overload
your problems ...?
Not the problems of people you know ...?
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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.
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
The reason this is a problem in
the first place is because of the results these addictions are
The results of Email Addiction,
Facebook Addiction, Internet Addiction Disorder, etc.
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
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?
What is Information Overload?
, 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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)?
answer is as simple as it is provocative:
Remove the stressor
(stress factor) and change your beliefs.
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.
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
Chances are that there is no REAL reason to check
your email more than every three to six hours.
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.
powerful first step in removing that belief is checking what lies
underneath your belief. You want to know what my guess is? Low
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
You CAN beat your email
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