As the saying goes, ” anything is moderation is fine, anything in excess in a poison”. Excess of nothing has ever been regarded as good and beneficial. A limit to everything is a must else it becomes a double-edged sword pretty much like technology and the internet have become in our present time. When the internet came in it was regarded as the best invention, we could have seen with the information available just a click away and the advent of social media was hailed for connecting people and for bringing the world to the tip of our finger quite literally. Observing these advantages, smartphones arrived and made the internet and social media highly accessible and the most common thing to such an extent that there is now no filter or limit to the exposure of being online. We have reached a point when people need to detox from their phones and de-addict from the urge to be online.
Do you also find yourself checking your WhatsApp messages every few minutes? Do you end up checking your internet connection if you do not receive any notification in about half an hour? If your phone your first-morning ritual and the last one before you take off to sleep? Do you end up absent-mindedly scrolling through your phone most of the time or checking through the countless items for online shopping? If yes then you might be under the effect of online overload.
It has become so common nowadays not only because of the all-time any time easy availability of the internet but also due to the numerous targeted and sponsored advertisements, apps, offers, etc. that keep flashing on our screens thanks to artificial intelligence. Online businesses have well managed to gather onto the user’s attention by popping the exact item you were looking for or showing something at such a low price that you feel like buying it even though you might not need it right away. This is where the consumer’s behavior is targeted and this behavioral addiction includes compulsive buying as a way to feel good or to avoid negative feelings sometimes as anxiety and depression through this “retail therapy”, or to just give in to the peer pressure or succumbing to the online pressure. Like other behavioral addictions, shopping addiction can even take over as a preoccupation leading to problems in other areas of life too and can impact a person’s behavior and mental well-being in many manners.
Some of the signs to observe if one is dealing with an online overload includes:
- Emotional satisfaction from shopping online.
- Restlessness to track the order until it is delivered.
- Spending more than the needs and without a cause and then having trouble maintaining the budget too often.
- Missing out on the world around you but never missing an online deal.
- A compulsive tap on the various shopping apps way more times than you check your work emails or you take your meals.
- Using the internet as a tool to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood.
- Loss of sense of time.
We are exposed to an overdose of information, an overdose of options overdose of instructions and hence an overdose of addiction. The fast pace of the Internet has accustomed human brains to a constant new stimulus.
- Online overload especially of shopping can imbalance your finances.
- Your mind and your mental patterns can get affected by this.
- Psychological issues like depression, anxiety, hoarding or obsessive-compulsive disorder can be triggered by the same.
- You can also suffer from physical health concerns like migraine, backache, haunch back, neck problems, cervical, headache, eye-sight problems, etc.
- Too much of online shopping due to the above reasons can also affect your professional as well as your personal life.
Before this takes over your entire life and affects your health more severely, below are some tips to save yourself from an online overload.
- Maintain a record of your online life and keep a track of the time you are spending on the apps. You can also note the frequency and the tendency when you are most likely to turn to these habits.
- Put down limits to your internet usage and fight that urge to check your phone sometimes. Some smartphones even come with certain features these days to allow you to put your phone in a mode where you cannot use it apart from emergency calls or let you set a limit on your browsing time. Use these controls to make it easy for you.
- Engage in offline activities that will allow you time for yourself or your loved ones free and away from the phone and internet applications or take a small vacation or a day away to a remote place away from the internet.
- Stay aware of yourself and your habits as well as your likely temptations.
- This is a highly common problem these days so talk to your friends or family. You are very likely to find someone else near you with similar issues and you can together make conscious efforts to come out of this habit.
- Take a break in the office too without your phone or the internet during the day or call somebody you have been meaning to talk to for a long time.
- Going for real life adventures, seeing life in its real sense -like going for trekking, nature visits rather than seeing the things virtually
- Avoid usage of mobile phones while having evening meals together with family
Contributed by Dr. Pallavi A. Joshi
Consultant – Psychiatrist, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield