Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Internet Addiction

When I received the following newsletter from Michael Lerner, founder of The New School at Commonweal, I immediately took the test at:   http://www.netaddiction.com/ 

I learned I am not an addict.  I actually do leave my computer and interact with people I physically touch.  I make friends here,  and I make friends other places.  I'm happy to know I've dealt with my addiction, since I think at one point my test results would have been different.   Take the test.  Where are you?

Michael Lerner's Letter:

Dear TNS Friends:

I have a confession. I am addicted to my computer and the Internet. I took the netaddiction test at netaddiction.com.

My addiction is largely functional. Most of my email and web-surfing makes me better at what I do -- rather than distracting me from what I do. Even so, I've decided to do something about it. My first step has been to cut down on the late night web surfing and email. I've discovered that if I try to close my computer when the sun goes down, a whole spacious evening opens up for me. I sleep better as well. It is actually liberating to confess to this addiction.

In a famous letter to Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Carl Jung famously suggested that the best cure for an addiction was a higher addiction. His actual words were:

His [another alcoholic's] craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God. How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?

The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is, that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path, which leads you to a higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism...

The Internet has a paradoxical impact on the social isolation Jung said contributes so much to addiction. On the one hand, it creates online communal experiences that counter isolation. On the other hand, it increases our isolation as we prefer these electronically mediated communal experiences to the real world.

The New School exists in this same schizophrenic relationship with the Internet. On the one hand, our face-to-face events are creating a strong sense of palpable community where we can meet in person. On the other hand, our podcasts both bring us together electronically and contribute to the simulacrum that the Internet substitutes for real life.

It may be some solace that this has been going on for a long time. When writing was invented, the Greek philosophers and others of their era cautioned that the written word could never be a substitute for the living experience of philosophical or spiritual exchange. They were right in one way -- but writing created a parallel world with its own infinite riches. Now the Internet has created another parallel universe capable of great good and great harm.

I seek a more conscious relationship with this parallel universe. Scotty, beam me down.

Michael Lerner
Founder, Commonweal

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