Do you enjoy getting into debates with people online? Do you sometimes write insulting comments on the web that you would never say to a person in a face-to-face conversation? Do you ever walk away from an online debate feeling insulted, or guilty about what you have written? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these question, it could be that arguing online is starting to harm your sobriety. This type of maladaptive behaviour is a sign that something is not quite right with your sobriety. Here are just seven of the ways that arguing online could be harming your sobriety.
1. It can be a Cause of Suffering in Your Life
Arguing online can feel fun at the time, but this can also become a source of great suffering in your life. You can end up feeling bad about the things you said, and upset by comments made by others. They old playground chant about ‘sticks and stones’ isn’t really true, and hurtful words can cause a great deal of suffering if you are on the wrong end of them. There have been many people who have felt so hurt by online debates that it gave them a reason to commit suicide.
2. It Can Easily Become Obsessive
These online debates can be incredibly emotional, which can make them highly addictive. Once you become embroiled in one of these arguments, it can take over your thinking and you can end up spending hours online arguing with strangers about things that do not really matter. This type of obsession can have similar negative outcomes to other types of addiction – it takes over your life.
3. It Can Stop You Sleeping Well at Night
It is common for individuals who fall into these online debates to have trouble sleeping at night. This is because their mind is going over what they have written and what others have written. Instead of slipping comfortably into sleep, the person’s mind is racing with the things they want to write online. The person may even end up getting back out of bed to add a fresh comment to the debate. The situation is worse now that there is mobile technology such as smartphones – people can continue the debate in bed when, instead, they should be sleeping.
4. It Causes Suffering to Others
One of the real drawbacks with online conversation is that it is easy to forget that you are debating with real people. The fact that you cannot see how your words are hurting them means you are able to be nastier than you would be if you could observe the body language of the other person. The line between online debates and bullying can be grey; your comments may be causing more damage than you could ever imagine. Is this a good way for somebody in recovery to be behaving?
5. The Need to Be Right is Unhealthy
The main driving force between these debates is the need to be right. It is easy to see how the thinking of others is flawed, so why is it so hard to accept that your own thoughts are likely to be flawed as well. The problem is that individuals take their own beliefs and opinions too seriously which is why they need to defend them as if they are being personally attacked. It is healthy for your beliefs and opinions to change over time; if this is not happening, it may mean you have become stuck in recovery.
6. Online Debates are a Waste of Your Time
Is arguing with strangers online a good use of your time? Life is short, and there are so many better things you can be doing than this type of activity. Maybe instead of writing thousands of words anonymously on a forum, you could write a book in which you outline your ideas – this would be a much better use of your time, and you would have something to show for it at the end of the day.
7. Arguing Online Can Be A Way to Avoid Your Real Problems
Online debates can be a form of escapism. It is an excuse not to be dealing with the issues that need to be dealt with. If you are going online to escape reality, it means that you will stop making progress in sobriety – you need to live life on life’s terms for this to happen.