The Issue of Internet Addiction Syndrome Essay
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The phenomena of Internet Addiction Disorder/Syndrome (IAD/IAS) are not new phenomena that are really not new when one stops to think about the underlying aspects of it. It is simply a new variant on traditional Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD) and addictive personalities. For those unfamiliar with the term IAD, it refers to an obsessive compulsive behavior approach to the internet where one invests significant amount of time “socializing” online or even performing academic pursuits or isolated leisure pursuits such as reading online to such a degree that other aspects of interaction – personal or interpersonal – are completely excluded.
This behavior becomes so absorbing that the person can not pull him or herself way from the computer despite the fact that there are negative consequences that can result. Hence, the continuation of a particular behavior despite the fact that there are negative repercussions that may result is a textbook definition of the term addiction and, to a certain extent, I, myself, have suffered certain IAD type behavior patterns.
In general, an article written by Lisanne Carothers effectively describes the behavioral patterns of individuals who embody the traits of this condition:
“A recent study of [a multitude of] participants conducted revealed obsessing over e-mail and the Internet [has the potential to severely damage common] daily relationships and work performance. Those suffering from IAD most often have [lacking relationships in the real world] and…develop a new persona, play out sexual fantasies or have instant access to [new people, places and experiences].”
For myself, my own compulsive behavior manifested in the form of message boards that dealt with personal interests of mine. This may not seem like a “big deal” to some, but the reason I eventually curtailed my own personal ‘time-wasting’ in this pursuit was because it was getting to be, well, addictive and compulsive. For example, for a period of time in my life I developed a passing interest in videogames. In an attempt to learn more about videogames I would frequent message boards for more information. Eventually, this led to me writing questions on message boards and then reading the answers that were provided. This may seem benign and, to a great degree, it was.
My Own Experience
In time, I began to interact more and more with people in the message boards and this became somewhat of a social function. This social interaction started to become somewhat repetitive on my part and, honestly, started to become frequent enough that the patterns bordered on compulsive. At this point, I became somewhat uneasy about my own behavior and simply stopped spending the amount of time that I previously spent on the project. This never manifested itself in me into any sort of serious problem. For others, however, the addiction to this new world of the internet becomes so severe that they lose perspective and do not pull themselves out of it. As such, their compulsions become debilitating.
The Potential Damage
Is there anything wrong with all this? Is it really such a bad thing to have to deal with? To a great extent, the answer is yes although most people do not realize this. The reason they do not realize it is because:
- The joy that they receive from the internet clouds their judgment.
- They do not realize how much damage is occurring do by their time commitment
The Issue of Internet Addiction Syndrome – Page 3
- Obsessing over fantasy personas and their online experiences keeps them out of the real world.
Consider the following notion in regards to this:
[The real world ceases to be important for them. even common everyday things such as] food, personal cleanliness, relationships, even [something as critically important for health such as] sleep are forgotten in the world of …the Internet. More and more of their conversations, social activities and even personal relationships [develop through the origination point of electronic mediums rather then anything] face to face. (Watkins)
Clearly, this is not the best way to go about life. This is something that I realized early and quickly divested myself of the problem. I have, however, noticed the prevalence of this problem in other people and it is not a good path that they are on. The reason for this is that when people opt to create a life for themselves that is one of “virtual reality” as opposed to absolute reality, there will be an instance where they must confront absolute reality sooner or later. Often, if they invest too much time in their online interactions, they will be at a severe disadvantage in the proverbial real world.
Also, I find it troubling that many do not even believe a condition such as Internet Addition Syndrome even exists. Like many issues of mental health and stability, the public will often take a dismissive attitude towards the subject matter and instead label the problem a character flaw or weakness. This is unfortunate because it does not allow the person to receive the proper counseling, treatment or advice they need. This causes the condition to perpetuate and, possible, get worse. Hopefully, as the awareness level of this condition continued to expand more and more people will take the condition serious and those in need of help will receive the help they need before the condition becomes overwhelming.
As noted by Robert Purdy in his essay “Internet Addiction,” the best way to treat this condition is to slowly and gradually reduce one’s time on the internet. I, myself, however, was more abrupt in my discontinuation of the vast majority of my internet time, but this is due in great part to the fact that I was not as obsessive as others are. For those who are struggling with more severe forms of Internet Addiction Syndrome, a gradual reduction would be well advised.
Carothers, L. “Internet Addiction.” 1 December 1997 Retrieved 24 September 2007 From http://www.bcmag.com/features/9609net.html.
Stonecypher, L. “Are You Addicted to the Internet?” 2004 Retrieved 25 September 2007
Purdy, R. “Internet Addiction.” Date Unknown Retrieved 24 September 2007 from
Purdy, R. “The Internet: Boon or Detriment to Society?” Date Unknown Retrieved 24 September 2007 from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/students/purdy/index.htm
Watkins, R. “Geek Speak.” 1998 Retrieved 25 September 2007 From http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/geekspeak/Addict.htm