Online socializing is a common pastime today. For many, social networking sites offer the chance to stay in touch with loved ones that live far away. Others use the sites to meet new people who share the same hobbies, political or religious views, or just to swap recipes. In most cases, online social sites are a great way to expand your circle of friends and provide one more way to enjoy interaction with others.
Unfortunately, there is also a down side to all the benefits of social networking. People can become obsessed with online communications, sometimes to the point of minimizing interactions with family and friends who are close by. In the worst cases, permanent damage is done to marriages, friendships, and to the person suffering with the obsession.
Recognizing Something is Wrong
In order to begin coping with social networking addiction, it is absolutely necessary to admit there is a problem. This usually occurs when the addict becomes aware he or she is about to lose something or someone very important, such as a romantic partner or spouse, or possibly a job. The imminent and very real possibility of living without someone dear or having to find work causes the social networking addict to pause and take a long hard look at how much time online socializing is taking away from other forms of interaction.
Reaching Out for Help
After coming to terms with the fact there is an addiction, it’s important to reach out to loved ones. While it can be extremely difficult to share something as private as an addiction to social networking with others, doing so lays the foundation for overcoming the problem. The support of loved ones immediately provides the addict with somewhere to turn when the desire to spend the day jumping from one web site to another seems too strong to resist.
Social networking addicts should also consider the possibility of seeking professional counseling. An online addiction is just as real and just as potentially destructive as any other type of addictive behavior. In some cases, loved ones may be invited to participate in the counseling, especially if relationships have been damaged by the preoccupation with online activities. Along with therapists, a growing number of clergy are also trained to counsel people dealing with this sort of addiction.
Unlike some addictions, the goal is not to eliminate social networking from the life of the individual in recovery. Rather, it is about regaining a sense of balance that may include a little time now and then socializing online, but not to the point of neglecting home, family, friends, work, and other aspects of life. While the road to this healthy status can be a difficult one, it is ultimately the most rewarding one.
After 12 years in textiles and 17 years in teleconferencing, it was time to move on to a third career. Since 2007, I've happily gotten up each morning, made the five second commute to my home office, and written on just about any topic you can imagine. After writing thousands of articles for my clients, I still manage to have something to say.