Jan 10, 2007

Socionics and Internet Addiction

In light of the recent problems at the16types.info, the most popular English-language socionics forum, I looked around at some other forums and came across this interesting post by a girl who used to be an active participant in online socionics discussions.

In my opinion, the central issue here is not the usefulness of socionics in general (I will discuss this below), but Internet addiction. Many people fall prey to the emotional draw of online forums where they spend hours and hours each day satisfying their need for communication and connection with others. Often people find they have personal relationships and emotional attachments to people on the forums or chat rooms that they have never, and will likely never meet. Dependence on cyber-sex and online pornography is yet worse. Some kinds of dependency, such as the nagging desire to check one's e-mail or do yet another Google search on a random topic, are more inane. The awareness of any kind of Internet dependency is almost always unpleasant and creates the desire to "fight the addiction," reduce or drop one's online activities, and give more attention to events occurring in real life. Often people repeatedly try and fail. If the author of the post is able to hold true to her decision, I would congratulate her. I'm sure she will not regret her decision in the least.

At the same time, I don't believe socionics has much to do with her negative sentiments. It really doesn't matter much what the subject matter of the forum is - socionics, snowboarding, freemasonry, or forex; the side effects of excessive online participation will be very similar. Of course, the best thing to do is to find some way to bring the center of gravity of one's life back into the real world and devote less emotional energy to one's online communication.

For myself - also a fairly active participant of socionics forums (but not nearly as active as the author of the post used to be) - attachment to online discussions has been an occasional issue. However, I am a newcomer to online forums and don't find them very addictive in the first place. Also, I'm older and have my own business to do and my own relationships that are more important than forums. Next, socionics for me is part of my professional interests, so the time and effort I put into serious discussion on forums also goes into "building" my websites and intellectual territory. Each good new realization or formulation is like another brick in the wall of a house I am building. If it weren't for the expectation of doing something with this material and knowledge in the future, my participation would seem like a waste of time. Finally, the bulk of my socionics activities take place in the real world in the form of analysis and discussions with real people (friends who are into socionics and psychology). I regularly get letters from people who are very interested in socionics but have never posted at the16types or other forums.

In short, yes - socionics forums can be addictive. And socionics can prove to be a waste of time if it is not discussed and developed offline (more on possible negative side-effects of socionics here). I recommend trying to stick to "professional" discussion of topics and watching yourself for signs of trying to satisfy emotional needs online. A test of the depth of your "professional" interest in socionics might be this: would you ever write someone a personal letter to discuss a socionics topic in depth just between the two of you (as opposed to having a discussion on a forum)? If not, you may be interested in social recognition more than you are in socionics and related topics.

The next step is to develop your socionics activities offline if the subject really interests you. Our upcoming meeting in London in April, I hope, will be the first step towards forming a real-life socionics community in the West. Perhaps real friendships and more professional collaboration will arise as a result. I think that will be a very healthy development, and I hope similar meetings will take place in the future. Real-life encounters and cooperation involve more aspects of one's being and don't produce unhealthy addictions (unless people get together to do drugs :-).

Walking a fine line between participation in real life and the virtual global community is difficult and is one of the fundamental problems of our day. I would not be surprised to see popular movements in the future to get rid of or drastically limit the role of computers in our lives. For now, each of us needs to have an idea of how to tell what is healthy and what isn't and make corresponding lifestyle choices.

1 comment:

Donna said...

You've nailed the issue quite nicely; internet addiction is the problem not socionics addiction.

Without practical application, what would be the utility of socionics? The idea is to learn, gain understanding and apply.

Thank you Rick.