One positive aspects of modern technology is how easily it enables us to connect with other people – whether it’s texting or playing an Xbox game with someone in Tokyo. In some ways, we’ve never been more social.
However this incredible power does have a down side: isolation. It seems contradictory, but true socialization has taken a toll. Something about talking to another person face-to-face is less natural to us. We’d rather text something than talk, and it’s not uncommon to see a group of people together but hardly looking at each other because they’re each using their smartphones.
We think we’re socializing, but in many ways, it all may be separating us from the real interaction we crave leading to feelings of isolation. Video games illustrate this problem well.
Connected to the Computer, Disconnected from the Real World
Today’s video games, like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and Call of Duty, testify to technology’s advancement. Many are incredibly vivid, complex virtual worlds that draw millions of people into playing. They’re highly interactive with vast environments populated by a variety of characters with specific backgrounds, abilities, and duties from which players choose. Players can interact with other players by teaming up their characters to go on quests or into battles together. They communicate via headsets, which is necessary in order to strategize and accomplish a common goal. There is much to explore and do in these games even if a player is on his own, and getting lost and caught up in all of it can be easy. However, hours or days are easily lost, too, especially as these games are designed for long-term play.
“Who cares?” you say. These gamers are still interacting. What’s really lost if they’re forming connection that happen to be through a game? The problem is that time online is time away from family and friends who aren’t a county, state, or continent away. It’s time not spent productively attending to professional and personal responsibilities. These things cannot be taken for granted and be expected to be there waiting when you’re ready to step away from the computer. But as the video game takes on importance, little else matters.
Real relationships are hard to come by (think about how many people you consider a confidant) because they take time to build, and virtual friendships can’t truly replace them. People can feel isolated when they’re not online because they may have let real relationships crumble or realize they’ve not accomplished all they’ve wanted due to their online activity.
Wilderness Therapy for Video Game & Internet Addiction
Excessive internet use or game play carries with it a variety of issues, and feeling isolated is only one of them. If someone has few friends and feels alone, online activities and “friends” can fill a void. In this case, he may be additionally dealing with depression, anxiety, or social issues. For others depression may settle in later when they’ve realized what gaming has cost them – relationships, money, a job.
It takes time to unravel the issues behind video game and internet addiction, but wilderness therapy has been an invaluable resource for adolescents and young adults struggling with them. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program uses a holistic, clinical approach, which means that students get individual and group therapy to tackle their specific issues and also learn how to take care of themselves. Part of that includes learning to be part of their immediate community through activities like organic gardening without technology to distract them. They learn to cultivate deep, real connections unlike the superficial ones aided by technology.
Problems shouldn’t need to escalate to the point of addiction to make us realize that we’re missing out on the vivid world around us.