Sometimes I think I need to get sober from social media. For example, I swear off checking Facebook, only to find myself lost in the comment section of a politically charged status update by some friend of a friend. I come to and think—how did you let this happen again?! It’s not necessarily disrupting my life but it’s certainly not enhancing it either. Should I mention that immediately after I wrote the first three sentences of this article, I stopped writing in order to check my Instagram feed?
Is Permanently Unplugging Even Possible?
The Atlantic recently published a story about the rise of treatment centers solely geared toward Internet and technology abuse. Of course, there are the usual arguments against why this shouldn’t be legitimate, namely getting into the nitty gritty of how full-blown addiction is truly defined and the fact that technology addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an official condition. But just because you can’t physically overdose on TMZ or World of Warcraft, doesn’t mean they aren’t making your life unmanageable. However, the Internet is kind of like food addiction—you can’t ever completely abstain, so addressing it is tricky. Elusive, off-the-grid hobos aside (and I really hope your Snap Chat obsession doesn’t create that sort of bottom), you kind of have to use technology to be a functioning member of society in 2015.
A a lot of these facilities are centered around treating adolescents, who’ve caused parents rightful concern when technology usage is their priority over school, friendships, extracurricular activities and family. The article mentions a 16-year-old from Orange County whose parents sent him to Utah’s Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, a wilderness therapy haven that welcomes all teens deemed to be “in crisis.” His mother claimed, “He shunned friends and family and neglected school to play online video games for hours on end.” She also said he struggles with anxiety and depression. I can’t help but think, wouldn’t those conditions have manifested in some other form if video games didn’t exist? Sometimes puberty (and overall existence) is exceptionally hard on teenagers.
Outback is a combination of outdoorsy adventures meant for clients to re-discover themselves through nature and full-on group and individual therapy. Camping for 44 days, the young man in the story survived without the Internet—but what happens when he’s assigned his first research paper after rehab? Isn’t that going to pose an issue?
More often than not, the drug of choice with Internet addiction is video games. Yet these treatment programs do not discriminate. Those overwhelmed with social media attachment have options. The article mentions reSTART, a rehab we have reviewed, as another escape from the throes of technology. They even have a 12-step system and a relapse prevention plan. A former teenage client told The Atlantic, she felt genuine detox-worthy withdrawal symptoms her first few days there. She came to the conclusion that part of her addiction to all-things-computer was a refusal to be still with herself. Sound familiar, alcoholics and drug addicts?
I am often on an endless loop of email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Words with Friends. Sometimes on a weekend afternoon, I find myself swirling between all of these incessantly. What did I used to do on Saturday afternoons? I’d either be nursing a hangover, already drinking or planning ahead for a night of drinking. I’ve been told to give myself a break if I’m checking out of my own brain with an iPhone instead of beer these days. But, it’s definitely not causing me the same kind of dire consequences as alcohol.
You’re Grown But Still Grounded!
Camp Grounded is the latest retreat for technology-rattled adults looking to escape. It’s a tech-free summer camp of sorts. Founded in California (shocker), it now has locations in Texas and North Carolina, too. But with no clinical mental health component, it sounds more like a getaway for the overworked, not necessarily an Internet rehab. People who attend are not allowed to talk about work or use any form of technology.
Levi Felix, the director of Camp Grounded, which is spear-headed by the company Digital Detox LLC, even told The Atlantic he’s hesitant to use the term “addiction” when touting the benefits of the camp. Digital Detox just aims to “disconnect to reconnect.” Basically, they seem be trying to remind us we’re all humans who need contact beyond our phone screens from time to time. Amen to that. I know so many people who abhor talking on the phone now that texting exists. I’m pretty damn sure these people had no issue with phone chats in previous decades, because they didn’t have much of a choice. The screen world is truly stunting our social norms in a lot of ways. Don’t get me started on the perils of dating this day and age. (Still single, if anyone who reads my work is keeping track).
Keeping Tabs on Digital Drunkenness
I don’t think we’ll have an Internet Rehabs section at RehabReviews.com any time soon, but these places certainly aren’t going anywhere. The more app-happy we become, the more we might start feeling the need to step back. Whether there is a danger of people becoming true tech addicts is still up for debate.
The video game industry continues to boom. Parents will have to continue keeping a watchful eye on how that’s impacting their children’s lives, unless they’re too wrapped up in their Candy Crush game to notice.
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