The Addicts Among Us

Addictions are for street people and celebrities and psychopaths, right?

I admit that I am an information addict that was really messed up by the internet. No, I didn’t stay up until 5 a.m. every night playing online games and I didn’t neglect my family, at least not abusively.

Part of what makes me decent at my job (I am an Academic Librarian) is being a generalist, or someone who knows a little bit about many topics. So what do you think the web does to a person like me? In the internet, I see endless possibilities to learn something new or to stay up to date with many things. But that is just it – endless possibilities. There is no way to make the flood of information stop unless you choose to make it stop. In the infographic below, Rasmussen College details the rise of media use among young people and research about media addiction and multitasking.

The stat that struck me was the amount of time people change windows or check email per hour. There is no good reason to be changing your screen that many times an hour unless you were looking for something to distract you. I know, I have been there. As tiny as the rush may be, we get little highs from online distractions and the internet becomes a distraction machine not a useful and enjoyable tool. We are all becoming addicted to distractions.

Jesus discusses distraction when he is at the home of his friends Mary and Martha. He explains to Martha, who is busy with preparation for the meal, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) I am taken by the words “few things are needed – or indeed only one.” How hard is it for us, who, as the data below shows, are taking in three ti

mes as much information as we did in 1960, to discover what is needed and even the one thing that Jesus talks about through the downpour of information around us?

Perhaps 2012 is the time for us to radically change our digital and information habits. Distraction is an enemy of the Christian life and is slowly becoming an idol to many people.

See a recent post for ideas on limiting distractions and taming technology.

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