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Eddies & Whirlpools: Becoming Stuck Online

Did you ever notice how sometimes in our lives we get stuck? How our world of knowledge and influence becomes stagnant? How some people know one very small piece of the puzzle, but almost never are able to see the “bigger picture”

The Forest & The Trees

 These questions are coming to me nowadays, as I realize how so many of society’s so-called “experts” and others that people look up to know only a very small piece of the puzzle of life. It’s like finding out that the emperor has no clothes on, and nobody wants to say anything.

 This is true of the mental health industry. It’s true of the computer industry. I imagine it’s true for every profession out there. Our role models — the people we look up to for advice and counsel — don’t always have all the answers. And in many cases, if you go outside of their small sphere of knowledge and influence, they are even more ignorant than the Average Joe on the street.

 What is this? Some sort of great epiphany of mine? No, just another lesson I learned pursuing the innocence of belief.

Stuck in Stagnation
How many of us have never experienced the feeling of stuckness?

(Very few, I imagine, and if you are one of those who haven’t yet, you will.)

 I feel stuck in my life right at this moment in time. I feel like the world of Internet psychology is moving at the usual slow pace of psychological knowledge (which is absolutely glacial in relation to Internet time). I feel professionals in mental health and in healthcare in general (especially the docs) are not embracing the open communities and technologies of the Net as quickly as I (and many others) had hoped.

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 Because of this slow adoption of Internet technologies, it seems that nobody is really innovating in the field anymore. People talk about the same old things — “Internet addiction disorder,” wanting to know the future of the Internet (much the same as it is today!), telehealth applications (competing and often proprietary, expensive technologies available only to the few; rarely do they pay for themselves except in rural locations), research (conducted at a snail’s pace, with enough confounds in practically ever existing study to make the results useless to analyze), e-therapy (too many scared by ungrounded legal fears and unanswerable ethical questions; no insurance reimbursement; archaic licensing statutes which don’t understand the potential of the Internet), and online communities (stagnant and keeping pace, but not really growing with one or two exceptions).

 Sound cynical? I am. Maybe I’m just feeling a bit burned out in what I do, the gospel I preach. It gets to be very tedious, tiring, and repetitive when new challenges don’t present themselves and ancillary support is lacking. When we’re still talking as though the Internet has a dark, evil side, it feels like people still don’t “get it.” (That’s like saying the telephone has a dark, evil side, since people have phone-sex on it! Or books have a dark, evil side, since there is so much crappy literature available… Blame the medium, not the people in it!).

Future Directions
I’m in a rut, which I hope to get out of soon. There are a lot of new opportunities out there, some of which I hope to be able to pursue. I have a lot of ideas I simply haven’t had time nor resources to follow-up on, which I hope to do so during the next 2-3 years. Some of these are quite exciting and will hopefully result in a change in the way people use Internet technologies to help themselves.

 My goal is to pursue and push others to explore the positive uses and effects of the Internet. The focus for me will be how people can best use the Internet to help themselves, help a loved one, help a practice grow.

 I hope you will join me in being a part of this effort. Stay tuned here for more information.

Eddies & Whirlpools: Becoming Stuck Online

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Eddies & Whirlpools: Becoming Stuck Online. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.