Sunday, December 21, 2008

Internet Addiction

I felt this was worth bringing up, because many bloggers, gamers, Twitterers, etc have -- at least once -- come across this issue being discussed. Whether or not you agree with him, the Last Psychiatrist really makes you sit and have a think about the issue.

Is Internet Addiction Really An Addiction?

From my own personal experience and observations...

I would agree with him. This is a social issue, not an addiction issue.

Think about it. Why do we blog? Why do we Twitter? Why do we have hundreds of friends on Facebook / MySpace / *insert social networking website here*? We want attention. We want the attention we're not getting in the real world.

The Internet allows those of us with social problems to withdraw into ourselves while simultaneously branching out. Those of you that know me in real life should know that I am actually quite a shy person until you get to know me. Why is this? Because I have a social phobia of sorts (and you have no idea how long that took me to figure out). Check the link there for more details, but basically unfamiliar or new social situations trigger my fight or flight instincts. It's not pretty, and was hell to deal with as a teenager. The Internet was actually a blessing for me -- it helped me improve on a lot of my issues with social interaction and become more of a "normal" person (*snort*). Basically I used it as a crutch while I grew a backbone. I could test the waters, find my voice, and learn not to over-analyze people's responses / reactions. It was actually kind of therapeutic (as is writing this blog from time to time).

Then again, building an entire personality around one's avatar / nickname probably isn't the healthiest thing ever, but at least I picked an amusing name, eh?

Of course, not everyone comes out of the internet sprouting wings of social happiness (some never do, that's why the zomgpanic finger-pointing happens), and these kids he refers to are obviously in the beginning stages of social withdrawal. They don't realize yet that their status as a social outcast is probably just all in their head. Like mine was. (Unless you happen to have people trying to stone you to death, and then maybe it's not just all in your head. Separate issue entirely. And maybe you should move?)

I find it interesting, though, that we always like to find something new or tech-y or disease-related to blame for people's shortcomings. Ever notice that? It's never our own faults. It's genetic. It's the Internet. It's that guy on TV poisoning our children's minds. It's those *insert religion/nationality/race here* that are to blame for the decline in whatever. I mean, I did it three paragraphs ago to explain my extreme shyness. It allows us to wash our hands of responsibility. Oh, that guy is a such-and-such. It's not my fault. He's just like that. Oh, I have a phobia, maybe I should take medication for anxiety.

Kind of seems like we're more focused on what the problem is than actually taking steps to treat it.

Yes, of course, it's important to know what it is so that we can treat it correctly. I just think we may have a little too much time on our hands and a little too much money to spend, so we're trying to make it a lot more complicated than it really is. And what does that say about us that we want to be able to label -- and thus separate -- everyone based on their shortcomings and not their accomplishments?

Internet addiction? Turn off the computer and take the kid on a field trip with others like him/herself. Show them the world isn't as scary as they're making it out to be.

And make sure they know it isn't the end of the world if they have a problem.

Quote of the Day:

Anais Nin
"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."


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