One has to think about just how much of a role the people running corporations play – and try to play – in our daily lives. There are plenty of things people think about, and plenty of things people don’t think about. This seems to be the case in a disproportionate way – leaning towards the latter – with addiction, especially addiction to technology. People can get, have gotten, and still do get addicted to things such as Candy Crush, MMORPGs, and video games in general.
This can affect all aspects of our lives, from our work lives to our home lives. These same people need to ask themselves how useful the things they may learn will be to themselves and/or others in the long term, and they must also ask themselves if they are adhering to their own rules. With this paper, I intend to gauge how much of a role corporations try to play in our lives through the power of addiction, and show a few ways that individual people can at least partially solve this problem for themselves and/or others.
First, we must first ascertain what exactly addiction is: Addiction is defined as a disease; a disorder severely affecting impulse-control, causing the gradual loss of said control and leading to other problems if allowed to progress. Problems can occur even if addiction is not allowed to progress. Getting addicted to a video game and trying to quit can lead to things like mood-swings, stomach pain, and unwilling fantasies about said game.
Quitting can also lead right back to loneliness, and a major reason people become addicted to online video games like MMORPGs in the first place being to assuage said loneliness. Addiction, like any other disease, cannot be overstated as an actual illness.
Next, we go into how much of a role corporations play in our lives through getting people addicted to their products. For example, according to Noam Scheiber, author of the article ‘How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons’, Uber uses promises of more rewards via alerts of closeness to finishing the current job, only for the next job to pop up for playing games that some of their drivers may be addicted to. This feeds the drivers’ addictions and makes them more likely to work longer hours. As seen by any Netflix consumer, Netflix and companies like them will automatically load a video for consumers to watch after the current video is finished playing; Scheiber states on p. 3 of his article that the Netflix and Uber systems are similar. In the sense that both systems use automatic loading, one can see that Scheiber means this in that said feature is an attempt to get the companies’ respective targets addicted to their products.
Some things companies sell to us even promise that their products are addictive, essentially saying that they intend to make consumers mentally ill for the sake of making money, not even caring about that or what it will also do to our physicality. “Candy Saga Deluxe is an addictive and delicious game!” (Candy Saga Deluxe – Apps on Google Play) is even in the app description for Candy Saga Deluxe in the Google Play Store. New York Times bestselling author and Cracked.com Executive Editor David Wong goes into detail about how getting people addicted to legal goods is society’s way of enforcing order and stability, and states that we are essentially being taunted with this fact every day. Considering that the only real reward for winning in games like Candy Crush or Fruit Ninja is to keep playing, and considering that people addicted to the internet largely just stare at their screens, Wong has a point. Furthermore, Wong states that wide-reaching internet scandals that don’t count to the U.S. as actual crimes and can be started for the pettiest of reasons the article ‘5 Things I learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person’, by Zoe Quinn, corroborates this. Wong’s point, helped by showing us this article, is that if people are laser-focused on the internet, they likely won’t be outside committing any crimes or rebelling against the government. “Society wants addicts. As long as they behave themselves.” (Wong) We just haven’t realized it, for a multitude of reasons, including wanting to get away from real life for a bit.
Speaking of getting away from real life, one has to wonder after spending a long enough time doing so: What purpose does playing a game serve when the player fully steps away from the game and back into reality? People can use all sorts of skills in an MMORPG, but theoretically, those same skills can only be accessed via keypads instead of via the player’s own knowledge. However, if the player has learned things that can be usefully applied to real life from their gaming experience and/or feels compelled to learn more, then even if the experience wasn’t good or pleasant, it was at least useful. For example, according to Manhattan Digest freelance writer Ryan Shea, author of the article ‘Video Games Improve Skills That Work in Real Life’, a player’s concentration levels at work could actually be get a boost because of the intense focus gaming requires. A player would just need to channel their concentration on their games to their efforts in other tasks set before them. Essentially, some thinking along utilitarianist lines can allow gamers to better balance themselves between real life and their games.
One must also consider the potential violation of one’s own principles that becoming addicted to a game and staying addicted to it at the increasing expense of oneself and others can be. If a given player is a utilitarianist who wants to be of great use to society, for example, addiction to video games without any eventual stoppage of it will result in the addict violating said code, repeatedly. Addiction in general can render people restless, irritable liars who repeatedly fail to make any cutbacks on their video game usage. Temporary relief from any uselessness to society that the utilitarian might feel will be brought about through the game because useful skills can be picked up, and even if the society they have immersed themselves in is not quite real, it is still a place they have use in. However, an addicted player is liable to mostly if not only use the skills they pick up for the game, and their relief is still temporary. Telling a utilitarian or even anyone whose principles heavily involve caring for their neighbors and/or friends that they will not be able to help anyone in reality as a video game addict, is an application of deontology that might get them to truly look at themselves and take a step back. Of course, whether it’s a step back from their game or a step further back from reality is a question that only the addict themself can answer. A given addict can also misinterpret or reinterpret their own rules to accommodate their addiction.
In conclusion, addiction is a disease and must be treated as such, and corporations use it to make money for themselves without any care for those ensnared by their tactics. In order to combat this, one can think about their usefulness to society as a video game addict or think about their principles and whether being a video game addict clashes with them. Of course, a given person must also consider the potential failings of these arguments; relief from society for a utilitarian can be found in usefulness to another society, and general misinterpretation or reinterpretation of one’s principles can stop the clash between the video game and said principles. However, the relief from life that is brought about by gaming is always temporary. For deontological logic, one has to know the right button(s) to push and push and press them as needed. Corporations play many a role in our lives, their use of the power of addiction among them, but we still have the ability to dictate the degree to which those roles are played to greater extents than we think.