For Internet Zombies

17 Aug

I live on the Internet – necessary for my job and my hobbies. But there are times when I suspect I’m turning into an Internet Zombie. For those who wonder if they are “Webbed Out” too, here are some sure signs:

  • Your best friend is someone you’ve never met face-to-face.
  • You get frustrated when you encounter a Web page with no links
  • You feel driven to consult the “Cool Page of the Day” … on your wedding day!
  • When you read a magazine, you have an irresistible urge to click on the underlined passages.
  • Your little girl has her own Web page.
  • So does your dog.
  • and your hamster.*

According to an article in Newsweek, July 16, 2012, “The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts …. One of the early flags for addiction was spending more than 38 hours a week online.”Computer_IWillControlYou

Oh my … my brain must be Internet mush.

Apparently, with Internet maxi-use, the brain shrinks in areas the process speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory  and other information. Lynn Baab, posting at Gathering Voices, concluded, “This has profound implications for Christian faith development and congregational life.”

Baab points to a MIT researcher, Shirley Turkle, who discovered some disturbing things about Internet mega-users:

  1. Moms and dads were emotionally unavailable to children because of high Internet use.
  2. People who spent lots of time online were sad and stressed.
  3. Teenagers were weary and depressed – worn out from trying to “create themselves” online.
  4. Major Internet use causes people to forget what’s important in life.

It does sound like addiction to me.

And it made me ask myself tough questions:

How much Internet time is too much? Is the time I spend online necessary – and if it is, how can I safeguard myself against addictive responses?

Baab hints at three responses to Internet overuse. I want to expand on them a bit with my…

Three E’s to Tame the Internet Zombie Within

(1) Enter a Fast (Isaiah 58:6). This is a practice used for years in fighting addictions and helping to refocus one’s life on things that matter, especially to God. Fasting of any kind is hard for me, but it’s meant to contribute to our discipline. When I do fast, I find it freeing. When I say “no more” to the Internet for a season, it breaks the links (pun intended) and reminds me there is more to life than staring at a monitor screen.

During an Internet fast, it’s important to check motives against scripture truths, and determine why we spend so much time online. We can re-focus on priorities, ask God for clear direction and commit to obey what He says.

(2) Enjoy a Day of Rest  (Hebrews 4:8-10).

God designed a day of rest for good reasons. Although the day of rest is a time to seek and worship God, He also knows we need planned breaks – some time to “unplug.”

Because the Internet also supplies some of my recreation, I do often go online on Sundays, but not for work. But when I sense that even that is too much time online, sometimes I need a clean, complete break (which takes me back to suggestion #1).

(3) Engage in “Offline Recreation.”

It can be as simple as walking the dog, or tending a garden or playing with a grandchild. We need to push away from the desk, computer, and monitor and everything else, and breathe in God’s clean air.

I believe there are so many good things about technological tools. I’ve made some uplifting “re-connections” with old friends as well as new Facebook Friends I hope to meet in person someday.  I use the Internet for research, creative resources and to stay connected to the world and relevant; and these are all good and appropriate uses.

But when the Internet, social media and other modern technologies begin to take over our lives (to control us), we become their servants, and this is never good. Paul says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12; see also 1 Corinthians 10:23). “Enslaved” is the key word.

We must beware of becoming Internet Zombies. It’s neither wise nor healthy.

Responsible Internet users: what do YOU do when the Internet threatens to control your life? What is your best strategy?

* Adapted from material at CybersaltDigest.com, 4-12-13

– Dawn

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7 Responses to “For Internet Zombies”

  1. debbiec331 August 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    soooo good — soooo true!! It was my biggest fears of the big world web!! Thanks for showcasing some of the potential fallout — and challenging us to be responsible.

    • Dawn Wilson August 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      I think it’s a case of a very good thing being something the enemy can use in our life. We need to pray for discernment. Asking the Lord what He wants us to do each day takes care of it for me.

      • sh2rose August 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

        I agree Dawn! As you included in your recent newsletter, Christ is first. “Making wise, godly choices is important, but magnifying Christ in our choices must be our supreme desire. He must be preeminent. He gets the glory.” – Dawn Wilson

  2. Sharon Clark Paavola August 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Dawn, I just finished reading Jeff Goins’ book, In Between. Then here’s your blog. I need an internet fast and how! Thanks!

    • Dawn Wilson August 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      I find it hard, because of ministry, to do a complete fast. Perhaps my vacation this fall will be a good time for me to sign out for a while.

      • sh2rose August 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

        I’m thinking of either stopping FB or limiting the time. I need to keep up with my email so I also will need to limit my time for other than email. I’ll pray for you and I’ll ask you to pray for me in making these decisions and sticking with them.

  3. Dawn Wilson August 17, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    That’s a deal, Sharon! Social Media can be a great blessing, or a great distraction.

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