Addiction and the Internet

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sometimes posts information in bars, knowing that the people who need their help are likely to be found there. But would you send a possible alcoholic into a bar to pick up information on AA?

Monday I came to work and opened my email. Being the first workday of the month, there was an email from Human Resources about health and wellness. The topic of the month is Internet addiction. The email included a link to read more information about Internet addiction, and that link led, of course, to the Internet.

So what about it, my WordPress friends? How many of us could be described as Internet addicts? Do we think about the Internet all the time, even when we are not using it? Do we resent things like work and meals and sleep because they require time away from the Internet? Has our use of the Internet caused damage to our relationships, our careers, or other important aspects of our personal lives?

I generally frame WordPress posts or responses to posts while I am off the Internet, whether driving or showering or mowing. That is less an indication of Internet addiction than it is a writer’s standard procedure for creating effective writing.

If I am addicted to any sites on the Internet, I am addicted to Sudoku and Nonograms. But that is more an addiction to games than to the Internet per se. If I had a hand-held version of either game, or a paper version, I would play just as intensely as I do on the Internet.

I cannot think of any way that the Internet has damaged my personal relationships. I might check WordPress or Facebook while at work, or sneak in a quick game. But when one logs onto Facebook and sees that one’s supervisor is posting while at work, it hardly seems worth worrying about getting caught.

If anything, I have gained important relationships through the Internet. Not through Facebook—I got a Facebook account mostly to spy on my children, and I have never approved a friend on Facebook whom I do not already know. My WordPress community, on the other hand, has become very important to me. I value my online friends and their ideas and interests as much as I value those of people I know in person. Moreover, I take attacks upon my WordPress friends as personally as I take attacks on people I know in person.

Gains and losses both come from making friends over the Internet. Some people pretend online to be someone they are not. At the same time, communities form sheltered existences where people can reinforce one another’s opinions and viewpoints, no matter how peculiar and uninformed those opinions and viewpoints might be. Trolls roam the Internet, looking for victims to verbally abuse. Internet addiction is real, and it can damage lives and relationships. This Wednesday I walked into a room and saw five members of my family sitting, each using a device, not interacting with one another at all—and this included family members who had traveled from other states to spend special holiday time with their family.

This summer, for several reasons, I have had less time to spend on WordPress and other social media. I am copy-editing a book for a publishing company and putting together another book of my own writing for publication through CreateSpace. At work I am filling in for other people who have taken vacations. I am also playing nonograms a lot more than I should. As a result, I missed some of the news that some of you have shared in the past couple weeks, catching up days later. I sincerely hope I have offended no one by my lack of response to their posts.

But what of it, my Internet friends? Are you concerned about Internet addiction and its effects on your life? Or do you feel safe and secure in your use of the Internet? J.

26 thoughts on “Addiction and the Internet

  1. Interesting topic. I never thought of it before, but I suppose internet addiction makes sense. I feel blessed with the Internet, mostly because I can’t imagine having had to write essays and papers without this much information at hand, available with just one click of the mouse button. Am I addicted? I don’t think so. I am online more now than I have been for a loooong time, but I only operate on wifi on my phone and if there’s none available, neither is my online life. And generally I don’t mind that much.

    Quite ironic how the health department sends an email about internet addiction though 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many addictions are to things that are, in themselves, good. This makes the addiction harder to treat, because a person cannot fight overeating by giving up food the same way one fights smoking by giving up tobacco. The question is, do you use the Internet, or do you need the Internet? I can tell, in your case, that the answer is that you use it. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think we confuse two different things: addiction and escape. Addiction is a physical need. Escape is a distraction we may welcome too readily. Addiction to opioids or cigarettes is too common, however, virtually everyone has played when they should have been working sleeping. “Addiction” is not a word that gives us a good excuse.

    Self discipline is difficult. It begins by recognizing the need.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually feel a lot of what I write is based upon conversations and other studies that flow into the blog or books I’m reading and I’m reviewing anyways so its been about hitting two birds with one stone…except fro the comments and interaction part of wordpress, that is just personal interaction interests sake…so I don’t think I’m addicted to the internet…?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for bringing awareness to this possibility. Anything that swallows our time and thoughts can be addictive. I have to plan my time, sometimes setting a timer when I am online; like others, who lose track when we are reading or writing. Good reminder to be more aware.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wally mentioned chat rooms.. and yeah.. that was addictive to me as well. BUT.. having said (or agreed) to that… the addictiveness of chat rooms back in the day is that it allowed people who would not normally trust others, intermingle socially, whatever personal non-social (not necessarily anti-social) attribute.. it allowed them to co-mingle in some element of 1 dimensional reality. The addictiveness nowadays is still desire to encounter other people and share thoughts in order to validate our own… a super impetus to want to stay informed for fear of missing something 20 minutes from now… and the intermingling of other daily technology being tied to the internet, like TV, YouTube, Facebook, GPS, Amazon, sending out for pizza, etc. We have become so extraordinarily vulnerable. Think of it.. back during the Cold War all we had to worry about was the two world superpowers lobbing ICBM’s back and forth to kill us all. Now all someone has to do (even some super-hacker kid in his basement) is take down the Internet.. for even a week. We have 24 orbiting satellites sustained by the U.S. for the purpose of providing our military, (and the militaries of the world, along with your iPhones), with GPS. Any country… and I pretty much mean any country.. could launch (or have launched) a killer satellite of their own to take out a couple GPS birds.. and the world is messed up back to the stone age. Just on destroying GPS alone. We are a fragile society.

    Liked by 3 people

    • @Doug

      The GPS birds are not easy targets. Only a few countries have the capacity to launch a killer satellite, and fewer have the capacity to attack anything in the semi-synchronous orbits where those birds reside. Will that change? I suppose so, but it is difficult to predict whether technology wiil make defence easier or more difficult.

      The problem with the Internet is that our government does not know what to do with it. Half our politicians want to control it. The other half are terrified that government will control the Internet. What I think we need to worry about is securing the Internet so we can make it work during a national crisis. The Internet was developed without much thought given to security. With so much of our infrastructure and commerce using I, we must make it secure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tom.. I know you are a former space guy and have some insight… but regarding the kind of orbits being more difficult than others for targeting the destruction of a satellite, as you said, is just an issue of technology catching up. But I wasn’t necessarily talking about launching a ground launched missile as much as a killer satellite being maneuvered into nearby position; in space, simply being close to your target and detonating is good enough to nudge it off course and make it useless… or just going up there and taking the thing to bring back to Earth for stealing the technology. Anyway.. just a couple years ago the Chinese sent a message (intentional or not) when they went up and “killed” one of their own satellites.. and the Russians went up and brought one back down. Countries without space launch capabilities often use third party launch facilities to send their own birds into orbit so it’s not a great leap to imagine a bird with a “secret mission” being tossed up there.
        Your insecure internet remark is right on with what I said. In that case you need actual physical security of all the central server locations just as much as cyber security, which is where any attack will likely go.


      • @Doug

        Warfare is about bang for the buck. How can you catch an opponent by surprise, hit him hard enough to truly hurt, and escape retaliation? Ideally, you want to take your opponent down hard.

        Space warfare is expensive. Few nations have military capacities large enough to benefit from the expense. We do. Problem. Others are starting to catch up. So we are going to have to start designing systems to protect our space assets. Think about that. We have not spent much effort doing any such thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting and timely topic. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to the Internet, but I do spend too much time on it. I don’t think about it at all when I’m not on line, nor feel the need to get on line but once I do I tend to lose track of time, a lot. I think for me it’s more of a procrastination thing which is a whole other bag of worms to unpack 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Good stuff! I’m pretty careful about the internet, I can easily use it to avoid other things I should be doing, like talking to people in real life! So I refuse to carry a phone, except one that plays podcasts and music. I probably spend entirely too much time reading and writing on WP, but I do that sort of thing with or without technology.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Back when chat rooms were big, I allowed them to consume large parts of my life in ways which were not necessarily healthy, in that I substituted that for, and at the expense of “real” life and real relationships. For a while, I let WordPress get a bit consuming. I suspect I may be somewhat genetically disposed to having and addictive personality, and can get very fixated on things. That is why I don’t expose myself to some things, drinking for instance.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Self-awareness is a good thing. I have a book in my library called Grace and Addiction–I don’t recall the author’s name and am too lazy to go check. But he relies on studies that estimate that the average person has five addictions, mostly behavioral. “Average” is a tricky word, but I think we all fall into patterns of behavior that control us, rather than the other way around. J.


  9. I have a new interest in this topic. I recently acquired an iPad that my brother gave my mom, and which she did not use. I wiped it and voila, I had a brand new iPad. I mostly wanted this because I have a small business in which I vend at craft shows, etc., and I wanted to get a device to take charge purchases.
    But I am spending much too much time using it. It runs way faster than my laptop and unfortunately it does nearly everything the laptop does. I am noticing that I am brain-foggy, distracted and habitually getting back on after I’ve spent some time doing something else. I do not have a smart phone so this is new stuff to me.
    There are other reasons for my state of mind, but the iPad is definitely digging a deeper rut. I have just about decided to apply some self-control. Thank you for bringing it up. Now that I’ve said it I will be more pressured to act.
    Thoughtful and insightful post as always.

    Liked by 3 people

    • As I said to Wally, self-awareness is a good thing. Most addicts think that they can quit any time they wish. Actually setting aside a device for several days to see how badly we miss it would probably be a healthy exercise. J.

      Liked by 1 person

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