Has the World Wide Web made you a World Wide Wreck?
I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe properly, my eyes are sore and red rimmed and yet there remain twenty tabs open that I have yet to read. My biggest fear is the browser will have a meltdown and my painstakingly opened tabs will somehow disappear leaving me with an empty hole that only a couple of hours searching through my history pages will fill.
I wake in the morning with a slightly clawed hand and a blurry haze around my retinas from staring a an LCD screen for so many hours; then I go on to repeat these actions at work during the day and then continue long into the night.
Yes, hands up, I admit it, I’m addicted to the internet. But surely you can understand my dilemma. It is after all the world wide web and contains more useless information at my fingertips than Ill ever have time to search through, so you can see why I panic when away from my computer for too long- what if something happens and I’m not there to ‘see it?’ Will life stop being experienced the minute I turn off the screen? And I must see the latest funny YouTube video before everyone laughs at it and I’m out the loop…
People have actually started to my question my internet habit and it’s got so bad that I find myself lying about time spent on the net. I was recently sent a quiz to take that monitored various levels of internet usage, and was shocked when it revealed my score was 85, and that I placed web-time over social activities and exercise.
But I’m not alone in this illness. A quick search of the web brought up page after page of results of others like me, victims to the allure of the unfiltered constant stream of information provided by our monitors.
And worryingly, a lot of it seems to detail my symptoms exactly.
Computer Addiction provides a list of symptoms;
Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
Inability to stop the activity
Craving more and more time at the computer
Neglect of family and friends
Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
Lying to employers and family about activities
Problems with school or job
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
Failure to attend to personal hygiene
Sleep disturbances, change in sleep pattern
Ok, I don’t have all of them, but quite a lot are accurate. You could however argue that many people would find that they ticked a large number of the boxes, so what differentiates between a social/work user and full blown addict?
The majority of people use a computer daily, enjoy visiting their favourite sites over and over again, and don’t feel relaxed till they’ve clicked through every single one of their emails. This becomes a problem when one starts doing it late at night when they should be sleeping, and obsessively checks their Blackberry for recent mail/tweets/updates to fave sites.
It’s hard to define the difference between uber geek and computer addict though, but it’s useful to make myself aware of the fact that thought the virtual world is entertaining, it’s NOT the same as actually experiencing life for yourself. Think of web addicts as akin to people who are seriously snap happy with their cameras- the people who are so busy ‘capturing a moment’; they never actually get to enjoy it.
As long as I remember this I should be OK, and with that in mind, I’m going to turn off my computer right now and go read a book.