The Power of No by Robin Trimingham
There was a great opinion piece in The Guardian this past weekend on the way that our impulses rule our emotions and decision making processes, and the freeing power of learning to override our caveman instincts (particularly when it comes to food, immediate danger, and sex) long enough to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation. The premise is that by evaluating decisions objectively we will choose more wisely.
I am willing to bet, as you read this article, that the older you are, the more difficult that you will find it to see the merit in this discussion. After all, isn’t learning to be a shrewd decision maker something that everyone masters in high school?
Apparently not – or at least, not any more.
It turns out that in the internet age, the more time you spend with your electronic devises, the more dependent you become on them for stimulation and the more likely you are to click “send”, “subscribe”, “like”, or “buy” without thinking the matter through. This might seem irrelevant if you have never used social media or shopped online, but for the those with mounting credit card debt and a closet full of shoes that don’t really fit properly (that they are too busy texting to return), the world is a different place.
In extreme circumstances this obsession can escalate into internet addiction disorder. Typified by symptoms of an impulse control disorder, internet addiction is similar to pathological gambling, and sufferers jeopardize both their own well-being and their personal relationships and employment.
Naturally most of us will never develop an internet addiction, but it does raise some tough questions regarding how much time you should spend online: How many sleepless nights chatting with friends on the other side of the world does it take before your health suffers? How many times will you max out your credit card buying things on eBay you don’t need before you drop your mouse and walk away? How many times will your young relations surf their phones during a family meal in a restaurant instead of talking to each other?
How do you tell when your time online is no longer innocent fun, and instead, is causing you to see things and or do things that desensitize your sense of empathy, blur your opinion of right and wrong, lead you to write words of hate, or support causes you would never admit to publicly?
The answer might be as simple as pausing to make a list of all the pros and cons before diving into a new internet experience, watching violent content that you know will most likely upset you, and purchasing anything.
If the thing or experience you are contemplating is right for you, it will still be there when you decide to proceed; and as for all the times that you tell yourself “no, I don’t really need to join the naked flash mob in Times Square”, or “no I don’t really need to purchase a year’s supply of dog food today”, or “no I don’t really need to take my cell phone on my power walk”; they will be moments of freedom where you reclaim a piece of the life you were meant to lead where opportunities abound and you choose the experiences that are best for you.
By Robin Trimingham