Monday, November 1, 2010

We’re All Much too Attached towards the Internet

healthy lifestyle

Geeks and computer fans have been “personifying” their gadgets since the whole computer movement started, as a sort of mirror to how some men name their cars. It isn’t unusual to find someone so attached to his computer hardware that he’s actually given “her” a name and a personality. You might even find a few that talk to their hardware the same way you’d expect others to talk to a lover or close friend. Then, there’s the phenomenon known as the Internet, which has even more people unable to leave their computers. However, while naming inanimate objects and joking about how they have personalities is one thing, excessive time spent on the Internet is now considered a completely different thing, according to studies on social health.

Internet addiction has now officially been recognized as a mental disorder, currently being listed in the same category as things like anxiety and depression. Studies on social health have found that the Internet has become the largest temporal sinkhole the world has ever seen, with more and more people spending more and more time on the Internet. The listing and recognition stemmed from reports coming in from Asian countries, which have long ago developed a reputation for being rather connected to the Internet. Not surprising, considering the fact that the Internet economic bubble didn’t so much “burst” in Asia – like it did in the West – as it did “shrink.” The disorder is divided into three sub-categories, which cover excessive gaming, sexual preoccupation, and communication and connectivity “issues.”

For the first one, countries like South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are obvious targets. Those countries have populations of players that are substantially larger than the gaming population such games experience in countries like the US or England. In South Korea alone, the average number of hours spent by the average player playing any given game is about 23 hours a week. South Korea, along with Japan, has experienced the problem of students and young employees literally dropping everything – social and professional lives included – to spend more time playing games. Studies on social health are confident that the numbers in the US are similar, though they are much harder to accurately obtain. Time spent on the Internet in Asian countries is logged in rental cafes for the most part, while Western gamers prefer to do their playing from home. Of course, the case is slightly different when it comes to pornography, the second sub-category listed above.

It is arguable whether or not pornography is harmful or mundane, but it is difficult to argue with the industry’s financial success. The Internet trade in adult materials is particularly large, taking in billions of dollars worth of revenues every year. That alone serves as enough proof that a lot of people are spending a lot of time and money looking for pornography on the Internet, where it is more readily available than it would be on the street. However, numbers outside of the ones provided by looking at the profits of pornographic websites can be difficult to obtain. Reluctance, shame, and many other social and cultural factors can make it impossible to get an accurate number from surveys and statistical studies.

It gets even worse when one looks at the most mundane aspect of the three: communication. E-mails, instant messages, message boards, and social networking sites are the activities and areas where people on the Internet spend the most of their time. They are also easily the most addicting aspect of the Internet, as the environment creates a paradoxical situation where people are allowed to voice out their most controlled, innermost natures while still remaining relatively safe from any true scrutiny. While they have been found to be beneficial for those with anxiety, for those who do not, addiction can be a risk. It doesn’t help that denial and obliviousness tend to go hand-in-hand with this problem.

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