Are we all perhaps linked by invisible bonds? Do the actions of one affect others, even if those others are far away? Our lives and the universe itself may be all part of a single mechanism in which all creatures and events are 'entangled' with one another.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Are You Addicted?

A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that more than one out of eight Americans exhibited at least one sign of addictive behavior in regards to the Internet.
So I checked out the symptoms to see how I compared to the people surveyed in the study.
Here's what one of the authors of the study had to say:

"We often focus on how wonderful the Internet is—how simple and efficient it can make things,” elaborated lead author Elias Aboujaoude, MD. “But we need to consider the fact that it creates real problems for a subset of people.”

Aboujaoude, clinical assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of Stanford’s Impulse Control Disorders Clinic, said that a small but growing number of Internet users are starting to visit their doctors for help with unhealthy attachments to cyberspace. He said these patients’ strong drive to compulsively use the Internet to check e-mail, make blog entries or visit Web sites or chat rooms, is not unlike what sufferers of substance abuse or impulse-control disorders experience: a repetitive, intrusive and irresistible urge to perform an act that may be pleasurable in the moment but that can lead to significant problems on the personal and professional levels.

Now I'll compare my internet use to the study's findings (my answers are in red) :
  • 13.7 percent (more than one out of eight respondents) found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time.
  • I find it hard to stay away for several hours at a time. For example, this past Friday evening my cable modem was out due to a storm--strong winds & rain apparently caused some damage. And it bugged me that I couldn't get online--but thankfully I had TV to occupy my time. Ahhh...good old loyal TV !
  • 12.4 percent stayed online longer than intended very often or often.
  • I have my computer on all the time when I'm home even if I'm watching TV or doing other things. Usually I'm surfing websites or playing a game while watching TV. And I constantly lose track of the time while on the computer. In fact, I was planning to go to bed over an hour ago, but here I am , still sitting here at the computer.
  • 12.3 percent had seen a need to cut back on Internet use at some point.
  • Personally I see no need to cut back on my Internet use. In fact, if it wasn't for having to waste time eating, sleeping, and going to work, I would have more time to spend online!
  • 8.7 percent attempted to conceal non-essential Internet use from family, friends and employers.
  • I don't attempt to hide my Internet use from anyone--I am very proud to discuss my websurfing skills. Besides I have no family, very few friends (except for my fantastic Internet friends) and couldn't care less about what my employer thinks.
  • 8.2 percent used the Internet as a way to escape problems or relieve negative mood.
  • I use the Internet to not only escape problems and relieve a negative mood, but to escape from reality itself as I find so-called "real life" to be rather boring and mundane in comparison to my "virtual life" on the web. I look forward to the day when I can put on a 'virtual reality' helmet and enter into a complete Internet-based world. I figure I can hook myself up to an intravenous feeding system to keep my body alive while I'm 'jacked in' to my computer. Perhaps I may need to hire a neighborhood boy to come in once a day to change my intravenous bottle to insure my nutritional needs are met.
  • 5.9 percent felt their relationships suffered as a result of excessive Internet use.
  • Before the Internet existed, I had no relationships and if it didn't exist now, I still probably wouldn't have any, so this is a moot point for me. If anything, I have had more contact with other people since I got online than I did before, even if it's only through email, IM chat or blogging. So I can honestly say my 'relationships' have not suffered.
So, in conclusion, it would seem (at least by this study's criteria) that I am addicted to the Internet. However, I would dispute this claim based on the following:

#1....I have always been an "information addict", seeking out sources of facts and data wherever I could--books, magazines, TV, newspapers, school, etc. Why I have this insatiable need to know as much as possible is a mystery to me. Since I have never earned a cent from the knowledge I've learned, but I still need to know. I do know that gaining new knowledge is one of the few things I find enjoyable in life. And the Internet is the greatest source for gathering information, so to me it's just a more convenient way to satisfy my curiousity. I still read books and magazines as well although I watch less TV than I used to before I got online.
#2....I don't consider it an "addiction", but more a "lifestyle choice". Some people like to ski or skydive or go to bars/clubs or have other hobbies that take up much of their time. Those people are "doers" who like to go 'do' things, whereas I am a "thinker". I just like to 'think' about whatever it is that happens to interest me at a particular time. And when you "think" about it, people like me are better for the planet because we don't waste as many resources as the "doers". Like gasoline to drive to various places to 'do' things. All I require is a small amount of electricity to run my laptop. And an occasional cup of tea or slice of pizza to keep me going.
#3....I am not wasting valuable money and resources trying to discover if some people are "addicted" to the Internet. Considering all the other much more dangerous addictions, such as alcohol or drugs (neither of which I have ever used) an Internet addiction seems like a rather insignificant problem. Ha--Take that, Stanford !!

So my final word on this subject is that I am not addicted to the Internet--I'm just in love with my computer !

C'mon now, my little 'puter, let's go to bed....we can have more fun surfing the web tomorrow. And if you're good, maybe I'll buy you some more memory or a nice shiny new harddrive. You'd like that, wouldn't you?

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