Recently, author and professional blogger, Therese Borchard decided to take a 10 day hiatus from the internet. She wrote, “Just like the first months of sobriety, I was intensely uncomfortable in the first few hours of my hiatus from the computer.” Writer and researcher, Jim Stolze decided to take a month off the internet to focus on writing a new book and experienced emotions of anger and regret throughout the first couple weeks and then moved to a sense of peacefulness by the third week. I can speak for myself that I notice a physical pull to looking at certain websites or even checking my email. What’s going on here? Is the internet making us happy by helping us connect to others more or is it one more thing we’re becoming dependent on? It’s obviously more complex than this two part answer I offered.
Stolze created the “Virtual Happiness Project” in the Netherlands, which takes a look at the relationship between social networking aspects of the web and happiness. Can sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube really drive our happiness? His experiment suggests that these sites actually give people a sense of belonging and community which is a fundamental piece of our well-being. I’ll admit it; sometimes I get a kick out of seeing what other people are up to or when old friends connect with me from years past. It does give me a good feeling for the most part. So are there any downsides to this new paradigm of connection?