Internet Addiction: More than an excuse for Farmville


(Katherine Ramirez)

I always felt that, in order to be a considered serious clinical condition, a disorder had to tag its host with obvious physical or mental attributes so as to warn the rest of the general public.

With most addictions, it does seem to work this way. Drug addicts can often be identified by the sort of crazed disheveled look they often attain while alcoholics can be smelled from a mile away.
However, Internet addiction is in a league of its own. Anyone can be addicted to the Internet and no one would ever know. Perhaps their loved ones or those closest to them would have some sort of an inkling, but as there are often no obvious signs, many of their friends and family would probably not actually voice their suspicions.
Why is this? Why doesn’t anyone say something to those who spend more than 75 percent of their day online? You know these kinds of people, the ones who, even when away from a computer, always find a way to keep in touch with their online personas.
I believe it is because technology is such a huge part in most of our lives now that it has become easy excuse anyone who goes overboard. We play it off like they just have way too much time on their hands, when, in reality, it’s a compulsion.
Online addiction is probably one of the most dangerous addictions out there right now. I think it’s sort of like a gateway addiction. It’s so easy to be addicted to the Internet–it’s convenient, it’s fast so it allows for that high of instant gratification, and it makes users feel powerful and protected.
Just as a small clarification– I don’t mean people who are constantly on Facebook or those who tweet what they’re eating. Those people are just annoying but this is considered normal behavior in this day and age.
When I refer to actual online addicts, I mean people who play “Second Life” (a virtual reality-type game) for hours, immersing themselves in this online world and completely forgetting about the real one. I’m talking about people who get really upset when their crops die on “Farmville” (the current Facebook game du jour), so they must compulsively check on their farms to make sure that their crops are doing fine.
Many people don’t believe that the Internet can cause an addiction, but when you take into account how an addiction is defined combined along with accounts of those who believe Internet addiction is very real, you start to see some serious correlation.
An addiction occurs when one is enslaved to a habit, practice, or object that is either psychologically or physically habit-forming.
With online addiction, the sufferer lives almost completely in the cyber world. They may feel more than just a little uncomfortable in real life, but online, they have complete personality changes. They are an entirely different person. This is because they are able to say and do things on the Internet that they probably wouldn’t get away with in the real world.
The Internet is extremely forgiving when it comes to strangeness (in the sense that anything weird is accepted with open cyber-arms), and to an addict, this is a very alluring trap.
People spend so much time trying to figure out whether something is valid or not that they forget that there are people for whom the semantics don’t really matter at all. They’re living it. What do they care if you call them “addicts”? They hold no investment in the real world, because they don’t feel like they’re a part of it.
This is where the danger comes in. When someone is so used to being able to be their most depraved without any consequences, how do things bode for them in real life? When you are able to say or do anything you want without fear of repercussion, does that make you a danger to society or just that weird guy who likes weird things?
Are you or aren’t you to be feared because of your absolute apathy to anything that is real?