Are you an Internet Addict?

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Are You Addicted to the Internet?

I hate being offline. I’m not sure if anyone else feels like this as well but when I’m offline for more than a few days I start to get anxious; not so much that it becomes a problem, but I always know there are emails in my inbox, things I want to do online… it nags at me and then when I do go online, there’s so much to catch up on that it makes me want to turn off the screen again.

I call the feeling iGuilt and I’ve had a really bad case of it lately. I’ve been a little distracted and haven’t been able to do more than just check my email and I even let that slip for a day. And when I came back on, I had over 30 emails to reply to. Well, they can wait; another day’s not going to hurt them. What I’ve actually missed more has been blogging. Answering comments, catching up on other blogs… it’s funny how much it becomes a part of your life. I’m looking forward to catching up later.

Being offline never happens at a good time, though, does it? I’d just got some ideas for new posts and of course that’s when it happens, not when I have blogger’s block! I’ll get to them over the next few days but I thought I’d just post a quick quiz today to go with the update; this seemed like a good one to go along with the iGuilt. 😉

Apparently I’m a pretty normal internet user. I guess I’d agree with that; I’ve never had too many problems online. But I’ve often wondered about internet addiction. We treat it sceptically but in South Korea and Japan there are entire centres for internet addiction. I’m not sure why we dismiss it so easily here but it’s simple to see how it could have a major impact on someone’s life… more people are spending longer and longer online and the impact that can have on our health and relationships shouldn’t be underestimated.

One thing I wonder, though, is whether it’s a true addiction or merely a symptom of other disorders? Many internet addicts suffer from depression and emotional problems and for others it can hide impulse disorders and gambling addictions. Using one term to cover everything seems to give the wrong idea. And unlike other addictions, aren’t most forms of internet addiction self-inflicted? Obviously it’s not as simple as just stopping, but no one forces someone online to begin with, so aren’t they responsible in some way?

I’m not sure myself. Most experts think that the problem can correct itself, suggesting it’s more that someone has to unlearn a behaviour… but then that can’t be true for everyone. If someone has an addictive personality, their brains are wired differently; once they start, they lose all control and they can’t stop even if they try. You only need to look at some of the people who died playing video games to see that.

Perhaps what we’re really talking about is the difference between an obsessive personality and an addictive one. For some people it becomes an obsession; spending too many hours online, losing track of time… it builds up over time, but it’s something they can change if they try. But for others it really is an addiction, something they have no control over. It takes over their lives until they can think of nothing else… it’s only going to become a bigger problem in the future as well, so hopefully it’s taken more seriously.

I know I don’t have a problem online but I try to be careful. Often I’m online for most of the day; part of it’s work and the rest of the time I’m doing research. Because I’m on a lot there’s always the risk I’ll come to depend on it, and in a way I have; that’s what I found with being offline for a few days, I missed it. But I think that’s natural as well. The net has changed; the content is better and there are reasons to want to be online, not least of which is the community. Like anything it’s making sure that you stay in control and can enjoy what the net has to offer. At the moment I think I’ve got a good balance… even if it comes with iGuilt every now and then. 🙂

So what about you? Are you addicted to the internet? How do you balance real life with virtual life? If you have any tips, I could use them at the moment. 😉

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12 thoughts on “Are you an Internet Addict?

  1. My internet addiction is confined to the home. It keeps me from doing housework. On vacation, I can go a week without touching a computer.

    CJ: That’s interesting. I was looking at Net Addiction earlier and they were talking about that as well, so it must be quite common. I’d not thought of that about chores but it’s obvious how much addiction can interfere with normal life… I guess as long as it stays manageable, it’s okay?

  2. You Are 67% Addicted to the Internet
    In your opinion, life without the internet is hardly worth living.
    Could be, but you probably need a bit more fresh air and sunshine to think clearly.

    i’m addicted, no doubt about it. the time when my modem got fried by lightning, the days never passed more slowly. usually i would like to go home as soon as classes are over to avoid the rush hour jam, but at that time i rather stay back until the computer lab closes and risk getting caught in the jam. and when i finally got back online, i felt as if i’ve missed out on a lot of things.

    i think i rely on the internet so much because i’m an introvert by nature. i do have close friends i go out with, but we seldom do. so of course the internet became my best friend. i think if i have more of a social life, i would spend less time online, but i’d still be able to do about as much as i do online now.

    CJ: That sounds like a pretty good result. That’s what I was expecting for myself, actually, so I’m a little jealous. 😉

    So you found that the days went more slowly when you were offline? I actually found the opposite; they went quickly for me, but then that might be because I was off for different reasons. The feeling guilty bothered me more and knowing I had a lot to catch up on.

    That’s a good point about personality and relying on the net. Personality definitely has a lot to do with it; if someone is a little shy, they’re more likely to be more comfortable online because of the anonymity. But then extraverts might be attracted to the net as well, for the chance to communicate and share their opinions… perhaps both can be attracted to it, but what they get out of it is very different.

    And that’s interesting that you think you could do the same things online now, in less time… I don’t think I could. I feel flat out as it is! I’m sure things will pick up for you once you’ve graduated… just remember us when you’re this big success, okay? 🙂

  3. hah, i’m way too shy to be a big success! as it is, i have absolutely no clue what i’m going to do after my final exams. i wanted to do my masters, but now i don’t want to. basically i’m leaving it to fate! (not that i believe in fate, just that whatever comes my way i might just take it and see where it goes, that sort of fate.)

    you, on the other hand. when is your bestseller coming out, eh? 😉

    CJ: Don’t sell yourself short, sulz! I think you have all the assets (brains, dedication and commitment) to do whatever you want. And leaving things to fate isn’t a bad thing either… sometimes it helps to make things simpler and find your own path.

    As for the bestseller, I wish! Right now it’s taking forever, but I’ll get there. With my luck it won’t sell until after I’m dead, though. So hold on to your signed copy! 🙂

  4. So what the heck have you been doing, then, if you weren’t online? 😉 (I know you have a life—that was rhetorical).
    I’m 65%, more than you, a teensy bit less than sulz. The quiz though, looked at negative aspects of online-ness in my opinion. sulz did a nice post the other day about the Benefits of Blogging, and I feel that the Internet has enhanced my life in many ways.
    One must talk quite directly to oneself about how it all feels. I think if we’re honest, we can tell if we’re too addicted. I’m online pretty much all day long several days a week, but a lot of that is work! Does that count?!?
    Did you see the episode of RED DWARF called “Better than Life”? Very good, but very scary. I could see myself there, like those you mentioned who’d died playing games. I hope if that ever happens to me I’ll have a “Kryten” to pull me out in the nick of time! {{oooh…if you’re reading this, you’re online!}}

    CJ: But I love rhetorical questions, Muse! So I’ll answer it anyway. 😉 I’ve had to sort through the groups I run as they’ve got out of hand and that’s taken a lot of back and forth between people. I’ve also had a flash of inspiration writing… add working to that and a couple of other things and it doesn’t leave much time. Guess it’s good I’m single or I’d be in hot water. 😉

    I agree about the quiz. The result that all three of you got is the result I think is fairly normal; is it being addicted to be on for a couple of hours checking different blogs? To me that’s just another way of communicating. Perhaps some people still haven’t caught up yet.

    I took the proper test at Net Addiction as well, though, and quite a few of the questions were similar. So perhaps it’s based on that? It would explain why it takes a more negative view than we might. I’m not sure whether I’d be able to tell if I was addicted, though. I think it’d be easier for people who don’t use the internet (or play games) much, because you’d notice the change… but if you’re online a lot anyway, how would you know?

    I haven’t seen much of Red Dwarf but it sounds like a good episode. I’ll have to try and catch up! I’m not worried about getting stuck, though; I’d just get Neo to pull me out of The Matrix… wait, Neo’s not real? Uh-oh… 🙂

  5. heh, thanks for the plug, muse. 🙂 yeah, it does seem rather negative. while i do agree that an internet-less life is hardly worth living in my current circumstance, i don’t think i need fresh air and sunshine to think clearly!

    CJ: Yeah, I’m not sure I could live without the internet either. We rely on it so much now, but that doesn’t mean we’re addicted… it’s just a part of our lives. Some people don’t see the distinction, but then it is a problem for others as well, so perhaps it’s just a different point of view.

    I’d take the fresh air but it’s pretty hard to find in Sydney! Does smog help you think? 🙂

  6. My score was 61% when I did this quiz some time ago now and posted it on my blog here http://thistimethisspace.com/2007/10/16/internet-addiction-quiz/

    Since that time I made a commitment to spend at least one hour walking in the fresh air every day and I have reduced the number of hours that I spend online by 2 hours daily. I began this commitment on January 1st and I feel that I’m leading a more balanced life now.

    CJ: That’s funny, it was on the front page, so I thought it was a new quiz… I wish Blogthings would include a date so you could see when it was posted. Interesting how similar the results are, though. We must all have pretty similar habits. 😉

    That sounds like a great way to start the new year; I can see how that would make a big difference… I might do something like that too. I don’t feel out of control but I’d like to have more time to do other things. Thanks for the inspiration, brightfeather. 🙂

  7. You Are 45% Addicted to the Internet

    You’re somewhat addicted to the internet – but who isn’t?
    You can keep it under check, and you’re by no means a hermit.

    Gee u guys get a life! hihih!! I am just kidding…I am the least addicted….I guess I can be addicted to things at times but can also get bored quickly and jump to something different….

    We have to remember that Internet is only a tool like many others to feed obsessions and compulsions..

    P.S.: Cj, my message on ”marriage gap” I meant dont get along with my sister not the other way around..

    CJ: So you’re the least addicted, CV. Congrats! It sounds like you tend to chop and change between different interests, which is good way to do it. I have too much of a one-track mind for that. 😉

    That’s true about the Internet… I often think people forget that the net is a tool and we each get something different from it. For me it’s a tool for research and communication, but it’s easy to see how it can feed peoples’ obsessions… everything has its dark side.

    And I’m sorry if I misunderstood your comment, CV. I’m having one of those off weeks at the moment! But you’re right, every relationship is different; just because it’s our sister or family doesn’t mean we’ll be on the same wavelength… it’s what the person means to us, not who they are, that matters, in the end.

  8. You are 37% addicted to the internet.
    Internet? Please. You’re definitely not geeky enough to be that addicted.
    You have a full life off your computer – and the internet is just a small pastime.

    I couldn’t resist the quiz part, but I think I take a bit of issue with the results. This result would lead one to believe that because I’m not on the internet much that I must be a leading a full and busy life somehow….. but it doesn’t take into account the original solitary occupation. Reading. If I substituted the word book for the word internet then I’d have to say that it would be a 100% addiction!
    (And, honestly, this confounds people who know me because I’m also ADHD – the internet should be a form of natural habitat for me!)

    I think, going back to your original post, that the online community has become a legitimate form of socialization for many. It has the same power to form friendships, allies, business partners and relationships as many small villages. I don’t see that being involved in that is a negative or unhealthy thing – unless you start replace previously held priorities.

    It is, as is almost all things, a matter of balance.

    You must keep the foundation of who and where you are to have any stability in reaching out for more. If your foundation is strong then any form of life tools will be adapted in and be used to strengthen the core of who you are. There shouldn’t be any guilt in that. As for the ones who have unsteady foundations (addictive or obsessive personalities) the internet itself doesn’t make or break that. It just provides a means for them to express that outward.

    CJ: That’s true about reading. I suppose the difference is that we choose to read, which makes it more of an obsession than an addiction, but it’s definitely something that takes up a lot of my time too! What’s interesting is that for a long time the net was 80% text based and content had to be read, so it’s only been since visual media has become more widespread that net addiction has become worse… if the net were still text based I wonder if we’d still have noticed the rise in addiction? Or maybe it just reflects the number of people who are online now.

    And that’s interesting about the way relationships form on the net too; it’s very much like a village or community, isn’t it? If you look at something like Second Life, for many people it’s become as much of an outlet and way of socialising as going to the gym or a book club. I think it’s exactly what you said; it’s about keeping a balance and using the tools we have to strengthen who we are. If people do become addicted that’s not technology’s fault, as some people think; the net has its dark sides but it requires people to exploit them… blaming the net is like blaming a gun instead of a person and doesn’t make sense. In the end it’s about taking responsibility when you realise you need help.

    Thanks for stopping by again, Jule. Do you have a blog of your own at all? I’d love to have a look. 😉

  9. Hi everyone, It turns out I am 34% addicted to the internet. But that was before today, when I received my own pc notebook from my husband for my birthday. (Aren’t I spoiled?) Before today I often had to wait in line to use our family computer. With 3 young adult kids in the house, sometimes the wait was quite awhile.

    It will be interesting to see how having my own computer changes my internet habits.

    CJ: Wow, congrats, TVB, that’s the lowest so far! 😉 And hope you enjoy the notebook. I switched to a notebook two years ago and have been very happy with it. They’ve come so far now that it’s actually more powerful than my old PC.

    I can see why you’d need one now; it’s hard sharing computers now with so much of our lives moving online. My mother bought her first computer last year and her habits have changed a bit but not too much; knowing she can use it whenever she wants to has actually freed up her time, in a strange way. So you might not notice too many changes overall.

  10. Hey CJ, just been reading through your stuff and I’m very impressed indeed. I’m actually rather honoured that you like my cartoons (I have a feeling a lot of my visitors are kids who like tit and bum gags). Anyway, I digress…

    Not long ago, this discussion would have meant very little to me. I was a casual internet user and even felt at a loss for content to browse when I was online! But then I started my blog, and oh how things have changed. All of a sudden I realise the rest of the world is out there on their computers too, and that connection makes sitting here in front of my monitor almost irresistably appealing. My girlfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t get it one bit, and I’m reduced to sneaking in for a quick browse when she’s in the shower or talking on the phone. I’m constantly wondering how many people have visited my site, or whether someone’s left a comment. It’s reached the point that I will wake up at night and become anxious, wondering what’s transpired in my absence! Am I becoming on of those obsessive geek-types I used to laugh at in documentaries, locked in their dark rooms all day? Only my rsi can save me now…

    Wow, I feel like I just went to an AA meeting 🙂

    CJ: Hi Mike, thanks for the compliment! It’s just a modest little blog but I’m quite proud of it. 😉 And I was so happy stumbling across your cartoons; I think anyone who can make people laugh has a real gift. And I’ve got nothing against a few bum gags myself. 🙂

    That’s interesting about how your perception changed once you started to blog. It’s hard to describe to people unless they blog themselves but a blog is so much more than a series of posts; it becomes a community, a way to interact and share ideas. If anything that’s what I find addictive about the net, the way it links people like never before.

    Quite a few people I know who blog had a similar experience to yours; it wasn’t until they started blogging that they learnt about other content, and then spent a lot of time exploring it. So I think that’s quite common. What I wonder about is with more people getting online now, is that going to change the perception that it’s not part of our lifestyle? I couldn’t imagine not being online now and usually it’s a part of my day just as much as watching TV or going for a walk. But I doubt some people will accept that.

    Then again, maybe I am addicted and just don’t know it! I wonder if there’s a Netaholics Anonymous? 🙂

  11. I am with Mike but you know that already CJ . I get up, get coffee, check stats…that is if I sleep what with dreaming about my blog….I actually visualise the stats charts in my dreams…I know scary…but it is just so new to me. But who is to say that isn’t some psychic connection coming to me that I have mail or I have a comment…after all I do get the old come and get me vibe from the thrift shop…and there is always something amazing waiting for me.

    CJ: When I first started I used to keep a close eye on my stats too, so I understand the interest, particularly now you’ve got Flickr stats too! I didn’t used to dream about them, though. Cool. 😉

    I don’t know if there’s a psychic connection but there’s definitely a unique connection that forms between people online; it’s like the relationship between a reader and writer and it wouldn’t surprise me if you get some kind of vibe from that. I’m quite good at predicting when my emails will arrive now as I know the times people are online; it’s not so different from that.

  12. Oh my goodness, I’m 58% addicted! I usually freak out if my connection is down, or my “lappytoppy” is mocking me up. I’ve done so many IM accounts, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, and SKYPE. When I’m online I usually, chat, reply to emails, blog, upload photos in my Multiply, Myspace , and Friendster accounts. I usually hang out in Meebo and WordPress. There are lots of stuffs I did, when I’m online. Well, including online dating, but not that much. 🙂

    CJ: Hi Rodessa, thanks for stopping by. 😉 58% isn’t too bad; I’d think that’s about normal, actually. We all do a lot when we’re online and these quizzes can make it seem worse than it really is! I mean, if you’re blogging and on Skype, that’s just another form of conversation. How’s it any different than writing a letter or talking on the phone?

    I’m not a big MySpace fan myself; I guess I’m more of the Facebook crowd. But I love Google Talk and Meebo, and I’m addicted to blogging. The online dating hasn’t worked much for me, though. Tried it once and it scared me right off it, so I’m still happily single. 🙂

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