For some it’s cigarettes or alcohol, but for many people my age, it’s the Internet. I know it’s tempting to roll your eyes at the thought of comparing an addiction to the Internet to that of an addiction to drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling or even food, but like any addiction, the internet is powerful and often times all-consuming.
In class this week, we briefly discussed, as you’ve probably figured out by now, Internet Addiction as one of the many facets of Computer Mediated Communication. This topic sparked my interest because I am a firm believer in the perils of the Internet and the dependence many people my age have developed.
As noted in class, there are those who argue that the Internet constitutes as an addiction due to its characteristics such as the obsession, compulsion and lack of impulse control typically associated with it. In order to write on the topic of “addiction,” ironically enough, I turned to the Internet for specifications regarding what makes something an addiction versus a habit.
Defined by Medical News Today, a habit is done by choice and the person has the option to stop the cycle of their addiction. Likewise, the person is able to stop successfully if they want to. With an addiction on the other hand, the person is unable to control the their actions and is simply not in control of their choices. Interestingly enough, in the article Unplug ASAP: How The Internet Might Actually Be Ruining Our Brains, the writer asserts, “the internet acts like a drug. Its gratifications are instant, and its accessibility is cheap and ubiquitous.” I found this to be the perfect analogy and it helped me come to terms with whether I viewed Internet “Addiction” more of a habit instead.
Why do I think the Internet is an addiction and not just a habit? Well for one, I can attest to extremity of the obsession, compulsion and lack of impulse associated with it. I’ve tried many times to “unplug.” More frequent in high school, I would attempt to go weeks without Social Media and even attempted (in vain) two Easters in a row to give up my phone/computer for the duration of lent. Likewise in my high school days, during the week of finals, my friends and I would have someone we trusted change all of our passwords to our Facebook and other online accounts in order to prevent us from being able to long on for the period of that week. This is what made me realize the validity of Internet Addiction, as well as the severity.
One of the affects of Internet Addiction we discussed that I find to be the biggest problem and the hardest to cope with: the anxiety. There’s pressure to stay updated with what everyone is doing and to keep everyone updated on what you are doing. Then there’s the feeling of being obligated to post and let everyone know that your life is just as great as his or her lives and that you’re just as happy as they are. Lastly, the feeling of missing out and “being out of the loop,” is one that I realized has a lot to do with this impulsion and obsessiveness we often times encounter.
In the article 4 Ways Cutting Out Social Media Will Encourage Positivity In Your Life, the author notes that “we are so concerned with creating online personas, we spend our entire meals giving the world play-by-plays of our enviable feasts.” I believe this bit illustrates the true tragedy of Online Addiction. We miss out on so much when we’re constantly trying to “keep up” with everyone and stay plugged in to any and everything online.