Internet Doping

Internet Doping

IT is always sad and disappointing to hear about celebrity athletes being stripped of their titles and medals after being caught doping. This image came to mind after watching Simon Sinek speaking about the main traits of today’s millennials.

Sinek compassionately stated that through no fault of its own, this generation is becoming less capable of facing life’s challenges. Many end up lost, depressed, and even suicidal due to their incapacity to form a clear personal identity and mission within family and society. He identified four major causes of these negative tendencies in millennials, they are: parenting, technology, impatience and environment. Parenting is the seedbed for the other three.

Another social analyst, David Brooks, observed the same trend. He says that parents tend to “praise and hone their children unprecedentedly”. Children “are bathed in love, but it is often a directional love. Parents shower their kids with affection, but it is not simple affection, it is meritocratic affection–it is intermingled with the desire to help their children achieve worldly success. (Road to Character)”

When children do not receive the “attention” they seek from their parents and peers, they become disappointed and depressed. Unable to find a pill to cure their state of emotional emptiness they turn to something they can easily access, manipulate and succeed in: technology.

Indeed, technology offers a wide range of advantages for man, but Sinek says it has become a kind of drug for many young people. Sinek warns that like smoking, drinking, and gambling, the instant gratification obtained from social media, gadgets, and other technological devices also produces dopamine. Dopamine is produced when one is instantaneously gratified by the “likes”, “shares”, “points,” and “hits” he receives in social media and other engagements that guarantee self-affirmation and material achievement. Sinek says society puts an age restriction for the previously mentioned vices, but he alarmingly points out that there are no age restrictions for indulging in social media and other technological wonders.

Social media (not to mention online video games) never fail, even with the seemingly most insignificant point and click, to reward with that feel good satisfaction. When this indulgence is uncontrolled, internet doping may develop in the young, especially when they hunger for constant affirmation. This is why they may find it hard not to constantly check their cellphone, to log off from social media, and to exhibit other signs of addiction.

Some years ago, it was easier for parents to tell their children to leave their toys in the toy room or their books in the study room. Today, their “toys” and “book” are probably all in one gadget or app. There are no longer physical compartments that would facilitate moderation and self-discipline in children. This is aggravated by the parents’ busy schedule that often leads them to surrender their children to digital-nannies and animated pets.

How then do we prevent internet doping?

The road may seem complicated and arduous, but the message of Sinek is still a hopeful one. It is a call for parents and educators to re-examine how they strive to help the young to embrace life in a more realistic and human way. They must help them see that what is truly valuable in life isn’t quantifiable and what one has to work for in life isn’t success but steady and faithful relationships.

As much as these “solutions” seem too abstract, we realize that it all goes back to “humanizing time” by making contact in personal ways such as saying “thank you,” “please,” “I’m sorry,” and “I’m here for you.” It is all about warming up relationships not only through digital or virtual connections but through a touching smile, handshake, embrace, and even a simple nod to say you understand or forgive. These forms of real human links are what will awaken and eventually free the person’s mind, heart, and emotions from the intellectual numbing and emotional dryness that internet doping can cause.

And if all these may still be hard to apply, one can try–-gradually and constantly, while asking others for help–a very effective method: SWITCH OFF YOUR GADGET, and TURN ON YOUR HEART AND MIND TOWARDS SOMEONE!!!