Addiction is no laughing matter. Or is it? Certainly heroin addiction is tragic, as is addiction to painkillers or the most recent craze to hit the United States, Krokodil. But what about Internet addiction? Some estimate that between 5 and 10% of Internet users exhibit some form of Internet dependency. Others dispute this claim and argue that excessive Internet usage is really a symptom of another disorder.
Although Internet Addiction Disorder or Problematic Internet Use have yet to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there’s no doubt that many of us would find it hard to survive more than an hour (more than 5 minutes if you’re a teenager) without some interaction with the internet. This fact in itself is somewhat comical if you consider what a luxury it is to have the Internet at our fingertips, and how far from a necessity it is. The tragedy, of course, is that in a lot of ways the Internet really is like a drug. For many people, it not only offers an escape from reality, but it can also be a temporary relief from loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
The less serious manifestations that Internet addiction can take involve frequent visits, posts, and scrolling of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Smart phones facilitate this dependency with convenient apps and push notifications. Dependency on these sites is relatively harmless, and most of us have probably exhibited this mild addiction. When taken into perspective, it’s really quite absurd for anyone to choose a tiny screen over a natural panorama, but at least we can sit back and laugh at this absurdity (even if we don’t do anything to change it). What we should be concerned about is when Internet addiction leads to online gambling and other more dangerous activities, because that’s when the consequences can be much more severe.
TLC’s hit show “My Strange Addiction” has introduced us to everything from hair consumption to couch pillow consumption and all of the bizarre addictions in between. Chances are we’ve cringed and laughed at these addictions, so there’s no reason why we can’t do the same with our own Internet addictions. At MySMN, we just hope that our Internet addictions stay light.