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September 29, 2023

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Internet junkies: Slaves to the Web

What makes something an addiction? Is it the phsycial craving, the percieved risk, the stereotypical act of distancing from friends and family or is it that bitter feeling of withdrawl when it’s taken away?

We all know the common addictions, the ones that come with the black-market drugs, obsession with sex and pornography, alcoholism, chain-smoking and gambling. All of them are addictive, and all of them are considered damaging to both the mental and physical health of a person. The list hasn’t changed much over the years, but a new addition is slowly beginning to creep its way into public eye, and onto the immortal list: the Internet.

Although Internet addiction is not yet recognized as a condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the reference book used by psychiatrists and doctors to diagnose mental illnesses, many are already beginning to classifiying it as such in their own books.

One such organization is The Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, for example, which specializies in Internet behavior, specifically “addiction.” The Center defines Internet Addiction as “any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment.” This can be determined by a 20 question test, the Internet Addiction Test, which they offer on their Web site. Too many answers of “often” or “always” and you may be addicted, according to The Center.

Take Alex York, senior, for example, who found himself answering “often” for most of the questions. He spends at least three hours everyday online.

“I always check my MySpace account first, then I read my e-mail, which usually sends me to the Facebook,” York said. “Then, if I’m not bored, I’ll check sports stuff like baseball scores.”

Although he will be the first to admit that he is addicted to Web sites like MySpace and Facebook, York feels he does not suffer from online addiction problems.

“It’s addicting because you just want to see if someone wrote on your wall,” York said. “It’s all about how you want to be noticed. It means you’re special.”

Not only is it addicting to monitor your own Facebook lives, but the addiction also comes from wanting to know about other people’s lives as well, which online networking has made increasingly easier.

“You lurk out your friends, and see what’s going on with everyone,” York said. “I can check out new pictures of them from the bars and parties. I can see who wrote on my girlfriend’s wall. It’s a good way to find out what your friends are doing.”

Besides simply being a paradise for the social butterflies out there, Facebook also offers a space for people to explore, and in some cases poke fun at, their so-called “addiction” to Facebook. Damian Herman who is one of the many Facebookers who have joined a group putting attention on Facebook’s addictive qualities.

“I think what makes it so addicting is that there are many features offered, like the new applications feature,” Herman said. “There is always something to do. You can upload photos, make comments, write on walls, have fluff pets, have a graffiti wall, food fight and so much more. It draws young teens to stay on Facebook for hours.”

However, Herman claims he joined the group, “Addicted to Facebook,” for fun, and does not actually find himself addicted to the Web site, or the Internet in general. Still, he understands why many of his friends find it so irresistable.

“Other Web sites can become boring because you are doing the same thing over and over again, when with Facebook you can keep adding applications that will keep you online.”

However, with the acressing awarness of addiction, and the broad standards of which it is classified under, whether or not Internet addiction is truly an issue, has yet to be determined. Can the Internet be considered to be an addiction? Just because people enjoy it, and choose to spend time on it as opposed to other activities, is it an addiction? Would one say the same then about sports, education, art, or theatre?

When you think about it, maybe the better question is: What doesn’t make something an addiction?

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