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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Is Web 2.0 a Source of Happiness or Addiction?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 19th 2009

wrapped in wireRecently, author and professional blogger, Therese Borchard decided to take a 10 day hiatus from the internet.  She wrote, "Just like the first months of sobriety, I was intensely uncomfortable in the first few hours of my hiatus from the computer." Writer and researcher, Jim Stolze decided to take a month off the internet to focus on writing a new book and experienced emotions of anger and regret throughout the first couple weeks and then moved to a sense of peacefulness by the third week. I can speak for myself that I notice a physical pull to looking at certain websites or even checking my email. What's going on here? Is the internet making us happy by helping us connect to others more or is it one more thing we're becoming dependent on? It's obviously more complex than this two part answer I offered.

Stolze created the "Virtual Happiness Project" in the Netherlands, which takes a look at the relationship between social networking aspects of the web and happiness.  Can sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube really drive our happiness? His experiment suggests that these sites actually give people a sense of belonging and community which is a fundamental piece of our well-being. I'll admit it; sometimes I get a kick out of seeing what other people are up to or when old friends connect with me from years past. It does give me a good feeling for the most part. So are there any downsides to this new paradigm of connection?

Like with anything else, the old motto, "everything in moderation" is strongly suggested. As a speaker at a recent TED conference in California, Stolze spoke of the habit-forming nature of the internet and gave some advice for being in control:

  1. Don't take your Blackberry in the bedroom

  2. You will never get to the end of the internet, there is more information in it than you will ever grasp. So it's ok to shut it off, the rest will always be there.

  3. Set a time limit sometimes and know when it's time to shut it off and spend face-to-face time with family and friends which is a necessary piece of well-being.

  4. Eat Your Vegetables (I just added that in there to see if you're awake).

What are your thoughts on your relationship with the internet and social networking? Is it getting increasingly difficult to disconnect and take time away? Your thoughts and comments here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

moderation - - Mar 19th 2009

 Anything can become addicting from going on the internet to reading comics. I agree that moderation is the key and people have to have insight into what actions help and what actions hinder them. 

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