03 November 2006

PSA: Internet Addiction

Net boy, net girl
Send your impulse 'round the world
Put your message in a modem
And throw it in the Cyber Sea

Like a pair of vagabonds who wave between two passing trains
Or the glimpse of a woman's smile through a window in the rain
I can smell her perfume, I can taste her lips
I can feel the voltage from her fingertips

Virtuality - Rush

Earlier today a friend sent me a link to a blog post: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/hughes/6574

Honestly, I found the commentary quite amusing. Not that addiction to anything is funny, but it took me back to several psych. classes. There were many times when, on the first day of class, we would hear, "We are going to be discussing mental disorders. You are not to diagnose yourself, family, or friends until you have a degree in psychology and you are certified to do so in the state of California." Then, we'd sit around diagnosing ourselves, family, and friends while the professor's back was turned. I mean, how can you not?

What I didn't realize at the time was that all things exist on a spectrum. We all exhibit signs of OCD, Manic-Depressive disorder, PTSD, and addiction (among other things). But, am I an obsessive-compulsive, bi-polar, internet addicted, hedonist? Not really (though I'm sure a couple of you would beg to differ on some of those things).

I would guess that I spend at least 40 hours a week online, for about the last 12 years or so. I also run a household, spend time with my family (I see my parents at least once a week, if not more), and maintain relationships with friends. Every morning I get up, get my cup of coffee and sit down in front of the computer. I check my email (three different accounts), my myspace, tribe, three different message boards, and my son's website. I post here and there, then my day gets started. But, I am 'here' pretty much all day, and half the night.

Should I even get into how many times my computer has literally saved my life? Times over the years when I felt life had nothing left to offer me, and instead of curling up and dying (what I really wanted to do), I came to my computer. I've found love, friendship, support, laughter, and a million other things... in people all over the world. If that qualifies as "social isolation," I must be misunderstanding the meaning.

So, yes, I do believe internet addiction is real, but it's a matter of where one falls on that spectrum. Even when we are at our darkest points, that little blinking light on the modem is there. It always reminds me that I'm just a click away from many of the people I love.

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