Recently I purchased a magazine full of Hollywood gossip, (mostly fragments of the truth but entertaining none the less) and was saddened to see on the cover another celebrity that had experienced a relapse in her sobriety. I instantly opened to that page and when I read the story I was shocked to discover that this celebrity wasn’t suffering from the typical drug and/or alcohol addiction. In fact, her said addiction was Twitter.
If you look up the word “addiction” in the dictionary you will find it is a noun characterized by “great interest in a particular thing to which a lot of time is devoted.” I do not believe that anyone can dispute the fact that technology, in particular Internet use, is growing exponentially. A decade ago there was the fear that children were spending too much time in front of the television instead of outdoors and socializing with peers. Today, the threat of television is somewhat behind us, yet another threat is upon us: the Internet.
Internet addiction does not only pertain to children, it is visibly relevant in adults lives as well. After all, even this generation’s grandparents are active participants of Facebook. As a society we have shifted our use of downtime. Meeting friends for coffee, going to the movies, taking a walk…all of these typical ways to spend free time have been replaced by Internet surfing, Facebooking, and Tweeting. Anyone with Internet access knows how easy it is to turn “just five minutes” of looking something up on the Internet into an hour of wasted time on the Web. What makes the Internet an addiction for many is the mobility factor. It is strikingly common to go on Facebook or Twitter when one is waiting in line, in the passenger seat of a friend’s car, even while in class. Truthfully wherever there is a Wi-Fi signal there will be mobile Internet use.
As not to be a hypocrite, sometimes I think even I may need an Internet intervention. For starters, schoolwork that should only take me a few hours turns into six due to frequent Internet breaks. I’d be lying if I said my Facebook page wasn’t open in another window now as I’m writing this. But the worst part? Often times I catch myself on the Internet while I am in the company of friends. Our friends should entertain us, however, sometimes their company doesn’t feel like enough, leading us to fall back on Internet use to fill that gap. My best guess as to why this happens is the irrational fear of “missing out” if we are not connected and available 24/7. Whatever the reasons may be, according to the definition of the word addiction, I am just another American addicted to the Internet. While I do not believe I need to join the previously mentioned celebrity in rehab, I do think I could benefit from finding a recreational hobby that does not require a Wi-Fi signal.