Sunday, June 28, 2009

" In my experience, the internet is not the disease but rather the symptom. "

I read with interest a short newsbite about how spending too much time online is straining Irish marriages (via Instapundit):

Too much time spent on the Internet is causing increasing friction between couples in Ireland, a marriage counselling service said Friday.

Some seven percent of couples seen by ACCORD, the Catholic Church's marriage care service, say too much time spent in cyberspace by one partner is their main problem, according to figures for the first half of this year.

John Farrelly, its director of counselling, said the problem had come virtually out of nowhere in the last three years.

A commenter in response to the news story, I think, hit the nail, on the head, "the internet is not the disease but the symptom."

If a marriage is good, one will want to spend more time with their spouse, and perhaps if strained, will try to escape in various ways, which might include going online. Or, in my case, both spouses could spend a lot of time online and then use it to make their marriage better. Glenn and I discuss stuff online all the time and always have something fun to talk about. I have never laughed as hard at some of the things I read or had to think so much in response to some of them. So, I guess, like any hobby or vice (take your pick), it depends on how one uses it as to whether it is positive or negative.

If you wonder if you are "addicted" to the internet,there are all kinds of helpful books out there-- even one specifically geared towards Catholics called Breaking Free of the Web: Catholics and Internet Addiction. The title makes it sound like "addiction" to the internet is always a bad thing.. .but I think it has its place.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

and on the other hand, spending too much time with a spouse may be a symptom of something.

8:18 AM, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heck, if not for the net, I'd be watching Fox News all the time.

8:44 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

I think it also depends on just what you are doing on the internet.

Trey - who is checking his email, the news, and blogs before taking the kids swimming

8:51 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

Among other things, the web gives us introverts a comfortable means of relating to other people. I'm no good whatsoever at party conversation. I can't break into a group having a conversation, I'm no good at moving from one person or group to another, and, therefore, I find myself standing by myself. On the web, I can find people with similar interests. Those people frequently have interesting things to say and are even sometimes interested in what I have to say.

The 80% (according to every book that I've read about the Myers-Brigss taxonomy) of the American populace that are extroverts frequently make the assumption that introversion is a disease. It's not. I'd just add that I'd guess that far more than 80% of those who write on psychological matters are extroverts, which, I think, accounts for the hostility that I frequently see expressed about those of us who would rather communicate via the web or print.

Yes, I know that many people prefer the spelling extravert, but I'm not one of them.

10:47 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


Actually, most psychologists are introverts so if they are writing about psychological matters --they would most likely not be extroverts. Anyway, I am an INTP so I can relate to what you are saying but I do think it is true that for us, too many people is draining while for extroverts, people are stimulating.

To All,

Is it a bit ironic that my husband is asking me to hang out and I had to say, "I can't right now, I'm busy writing about people whose internet addictions are straining their marriage?"

11:03 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Logging on and spending time cruising the internet or plowing through email is not an addiction.

I can stop any time I want.


I just dont' want to.

11:31 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm on another board talking about a completely different topic but having the same discussion. Is X the problem or the symptom? My guess in these matters is that it is a bit of both.

Take alcoholism. One may use alcohol to counter depression. Depression may be a problem and alcoholism a symptom. But when one spends hours at the bar, can't function in the morning, is argumentative from the drink and loses hours at work....well then alcoholism is a problem too. The same can be said for hours on the Internet, the symptom is also a problem. If one gets lost in an on-line game for hours on end and doesn't spend time with the family to the point where the marriage disintegrates, the Internet game becomes a problem.

I'm an oddball in that I am usually ahead of the curve. I don't know why this is but I guess I like to try new things and am not afraid of much. I bought a computer and was on the Internet before most people. I've had a blog for 5 years, I'm on Facebook and Youtube. I have all of this hooked together quite nicely and my html code is functional.

But I want to forwarn everyone, something has snapped in me a few weeks ago. I've had a desire to really downsize my on-line time. I don't want to do it anymore. I no longer want my Internet usage to be a great sinkhole of my time, money and effort. It's been a fun ride but I'm not getting the satisfaction I once did from it all.

I've reduced my time to reading and commenting on only a couple of blogs including this one. I read the news sites and that is going to be pretty much it for the foreseeable future. So if this is happening to me my guess is that other people will follow. I wonder what the next toy will be?

11:59 AM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Ern, social discomfort is treatable in most cases. It is uncomfortable getting past it, but psychological treatments are usually very effective.

For the record, I am an INFP, an introvert as well.


12:07 PM, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I appear to be an ENFP. But I love Mayfield Dairy Banana Popsicles, if that helps.

2:49 PM, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past, I have been to the Kiersey II web site and taken the temperment tests, or whatever they are. After reading the above i went to, that google brought up. It says I'm ENFP. Not professionally administered, but what the heck. As one who thoroughly enjoys going overboard, I took the Kiersey test 5 times in the last 4 years.

12/05 I was rational (NT)
02/06 I was Rational (NT)
05/08 I was Artisan (SP)
Today (06/09) at Kiersey, I was Artisan (SP), while at pathways I was ENFP.

Should I be at all concerned about this, or should I just go ahead and make myself a ham sandwich and iced tea and head out and wax the car as [planned?

4:42 PM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Wax the car. Really, what does all this stuff really mean anyway? You are an irrational artisan, now go.

5:03 PM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

In the immortal words of Groucho Marx, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times."

6:58 PM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger tomcal said...


I used to wax my cars all the time, but about 6 years ago, bending over to put in all the elbow grease required started causing my back to act up. So I stopped. But, that was at about the time that my kids started getting interested in cars, and they began meticulously caring for the ones they eventually wanted (not necessarily the ones they did) begin driving.

We keep our cars quite a while and between my business and home we own a total of 9. It seems to me, although I didn't keep records to prove it, that the ones washed and waxed the least actually have the best preserved paint jobs. You think I might be onto something?

I will be researching my hypothesis on the internet and awaiting your reply while my wife is out walking the dogs in the park.

9:06 PM, June 28, 2009  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

Addicted to the Internet?

Help is available at

10:24 PM, June 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are pros and cons to waxing a vehicle. A garage kept car's finish keeps the longest. I use Zymol. It's the best, I think, and does the least damage as far as removing clear coat over time.

By the way, the post above was another futile attempt at humor.
Thank God I never pursued stand up comedy as a vocation.

5:02 AM, June 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BMW has the best factory paint jobs. It is rare to find a BMW with any surface rust. No, I don't own one.

6:14 AM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm a waxer, Turtlewax gal. I also like to keep my vehicles for 15 years, no garage either. To add insult to injury I like dark red cars. It's a disaster of a plan, at year 10 I can kiss that clear coat goodbye. Again, I choose my battles, the clear coat ain't one of them.

I will be able to report back on the rust issue for you, though. Last month I was teaching my neighbor how to drive and she cracked up the front of the car. I made her pay to fix it but some of the paint chipped off. No worries though, the crack-up of my car has made such a delicious story I know I will be able to tease my neighbor for years. I'm looking forward to it.

More off-topic. Here is a well-written piece from the Atlantic Monthly about marriage and divorce, interesting viewpoint to say the least.

I got to that article from this follow-up commentary from the NYT on it.
I've felt a bit uneasy this last week because I've subconsciously been cheering on Mark Sanford. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

6:51 AM, June 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cham - "arrest me" red? As one who travels by auto a lot, and usually on my way to an emergency breakdown when doing so, I have received incalculable speeding tickets from owning red cars. I finally wised up, and went with neutral colors. A vast reduction in tickets, but still the same lead foot.

8:13 AM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

No, it's a dark red, not bright red. I used to drive a dark red sports car and I was stopped regularly for speeding, stop lights and seat belts. My world changed when I started driving a minivan. Nothing says innocent, pure and wholesome like a minivan. I can speed around with immunity these days. You should try it.

8:28 AM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger dienw said...

Are the Irish marriages hurting because the spouses are finally sober for long periods of time while on the internet?

And you knew that joke was going to come along.

11:25 AM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Publius said...

"If a marriage is good, one will want to spend more time with their spouse, and perhaps if strained, will try to escape in various ways, which might include going online."

Doesn't this imply that a "good" marriage just happens; that it doesn't require work of a sort? I think that is a bit of a broad brush.

I would tend to think it would be just as accurate, if not more so to say:

"If one spends more time with their spouse, they are more likely to have a "good" marriage".

After all, it is often the feeling following the action, isn't it?

3:20 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Beck said...

I would suggest that the key distinction is between chemical addiction vs. psychological addiction. With, say, alcoholism , alcohol is the disease: a chemical addiction. Internet (or gaming or fishing or, arguably, marijuana) addiction is a psychological addiction, wherein the object of addiction is the symptom.

3:21 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

What type of addiction are we talking about? Are chat site and internet porn addictions included in this mix? I would think that would skew the numbers, as that is something that spouses might define as a problem independent of whether it was on the internet or not.

BR549 - don't get caught up in Myers-Briggs categories. It's really a parlor game, only one step more scientific than your horoscope.

3:38 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

Agree on it being a symptom. My boyfriend and I met at the Apple computer store about seven years ago, and technology in general and the Internet is such a huge part of both of our lives (we both have active sites, and we're huge info consumers) that it's something we bond over. Like you, we're always discussing something we've seen or read, forwarding links, Skyping each other notes during the day. Or, on less-than-good days, he's fixing messes I've made on my site (there's a good reason I'm not allowed to post links to my blogroll myself!)

3:48 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Am I the only one who is confused by the fact that br549 is using a ham sandwich and iced tea to wax his car with? Does that work? Do you eat it after you're done? If you're waxing a BMW do you have to use Black Forest ham?

3:53 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger lgstarr said...

My husband has two political websites and I have a political blog. Sometimes I'm upstairs emailing him while he's on his computer downstairs. You would laugh if you heard how we yell back and forth: "Have you got it yet?" Or: "I'm sending you something important, read it now!" Or: "OK, I just posted a new article on Neville Awards, read it NOW..." It's funny...and FUN!

4:39 PM, June 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dac, I waxed my sandwich and ate my car. In extroverted style.

4:46 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger RebeccaH said...

Ern and Dr. Helen, thank you for the brief discussion on introverts on the web. I'm a definite introvert, in that I don't mind, and in fact prefer, extended periods of alone time. However, I've never had a problem making friends in real time, and interacting face to face (in fact, I can be quite charming to other people --- whether learned or innate, I leave it to you students of human nature). But, the charming and conversational skill in real time carries a certain strain for people like me.

The internet is a godsend for introverts who don't really want to be isolated. You, Dr. Helen, as a psychologist surely know that introversion and social isolation are not always inclusive. I can carry on conversations, and build internet relationships that mean a great deal. Some of them have lasted almost as long as a decade, and have led to face to face meetings that were very pleasurable, and as meaningful as any other friendship. But many other internet relationships never have to be validated by face to face meetings, because we have mutual interests and good conversations. As we humans are the Talky Species, I think that's a good thing.

5:42 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger msspurlock said...

The Internet is of course, just a symptom.

Women lose their husbands the moment they start being wives.

Be a woman.
Be a friend.
Be a wife, too, only...occasionally.

If that makes you think, "Why do I have to do all the work in the relationship?" you're already exclusively a wife.

What your friends and society think of you is already more important to you than your marriage.

As for men, here's a tip: Stop treating your wives like they're just wives once in a while. Treat them like a friend or a woman. Change it up. It's IMPORTANT.

Reality can be better than the Internet. It's certainly better than anything on television or whatever garbage Hollywood puts out.

6:15 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Porkov said...

Ah, the Irish:

Paddy Murphy hoisted his Guinness and said, "The greatest times I've had in me life was spent between the legs of me wife!" That won him the top prize at the pub for the best toast of the night.

He went home and told his wife, Mary, "I won the prize for the
Best Toast of the Night". She said, "Aye, did ye now. And what was your toast?" Paddy said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, sitting in church beside me wife."

"Oh, that is very nice indeed, Paidrick!" Mary said.

The next day, Mary ran into Seamus Flannegan on the street corner. The man chuckled and said with a leer, "Paddy won the prize the other night at the pub with a toast about you, Mary.

"She said, "Aye, so he said, and I was a bit surprised meself. You know, he's only been there twice in the last four years. Once he fell asleep, and the other time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come."

6:35 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

Here's what I don't get. Couples allegedly spend to much time online, but in lieu of what? It's not like they would spending any more time together otherwise.

Historically, we are quite abnormal with the amount of time families spend together and people are complaining?

10:34 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger Roismhaire said...

I'm Irish.
And I'm Catholic.
And I'm married.

We've got enough guilt, for goodness sake - now they have to make us feel like crap for being online -Arrrgghhhhh!!! - Methinks I might set up another blog on this alone!

11:45 PM, June 29, 2009  
Blogger CWC said...

Dr. Helen writes:
Is it a bit ironic that my husband is asking me to hang out and I had to say, "I can't right now, I'm busy writing about people whose internet addictions are straining their marriage?"

Indeed. Heh.

2:42 AM, June 30, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the amount of information available at your fingertips, the Internet is truly a wonderful thing. For me, it has replaced numerous trips to libraries and much longer time doing research on things of interest and necessity. Lost user manuals and installation instructions replaced with the click of a mouse. Self diagnosing trouble codes for your automobile, bingo! E-mail, skype, mail order - wonderful! One can find new customers, re-discover old ones, and do so every day. One can hit the front page of almost every newspaper in the world, all the major news outlets, and compare notes. How else could you so easily do that?

I don't use the Internet too much. I'm only on line when I'm awake.

5:13 AM, June 30, 2009  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

Introvert. Extrovert.

Is there really nothing in the middle?

6:26 AM, June 30, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Due to my new objectives I did something yesterday I haven't done in a long time, I went to the main branch of the city library. It turns out that in my Internet-fog absence the big library built a whole new addition. At first I went to the wrong area looking for the department I needed, I got redirected down long strange corridors to the new building. Once I found what I needed to find in a long lost file cabinet I was amazed at the data I found. Not everything is getting scanned and placed in an easily found spot on Google. I spent several hours reading stuff I didn't know. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use that new-fangled copier-scanner thing the library has. It involves some sort of card that you load somehow with money. It looks scary.

8:02 AM, June 30, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can'na just pull the fookin' plug?

11:58 AM, June 30, 2009  

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