Thursday, December 01, 2005

When Everything We Do (including blogging) Is An Addiction

After perusing today's New York Times, I have determined that we live in a time where every breath, tick, or activity we engage in that is not directly related to work or family is considerd an addiction. Hooked on the Web: Help is on the Way (in the Style section, no less) details the problem that so many of us seem to be developing with our excessive/obsessive Internet use.

Here's the skinny on onlineaholics
These specialists estimate that 6 percent to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in this country have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, and they are rushing to treat it. Yet some in the field remain skeptical that heavy use of the Internet qualifies as a legitimate addiction, and one academic expert called it a fad illness.

Skeptics argue that even obsessive Internet use does not exact the same toll on health or family life as conventionally recognized addictions. But, mental health professionals who support the diagnosis of Internet addiction say, a majority of obsessive users are online to further addictions to gambling or pornography or have become much more dependent on those vices because of their prevalence on the Internet.

But other users have a broader dependency and spend hours online each day, surfing the Web, trading stocks, instant messaging or blogging, and a fast-rising number are becoming addicted to Internet video games.

I don't know...sounds more like it's just easier in many ways to do stuff on the 'net than it is to go out and do it. When there's no longer a town square to venture out to, when one has to drive from here to there, and never meets a friendly soul, one might just as soon spend more quality time online than in the physical world.

Sometimes the better community is online rather than in one's own backyard.

Perhaps, though, this is just the disease-du-jour. In an article titled "Our National Eating Disorder" (NYT 10/17/04), our problem then was carbophobia We'd developed such a reverence for Atkins-style diet programs that many of us here and across the Pond in the U.K. were developing an unhealthy aversion to breads, pastas and potatoes. We were neglecting the need for healthy carbs, and were getting hysterical over Panina Bread places moving into our neighborhoods.

Personally, I think our latest "addiction" is just another buzzword for some enterprising shrinks to solemly banter around, then sell it to some poor souls who have a general existentialist angst about life and feel a pathological need to patholigize themselves.

The problem isn't with unhealthy internet use, or an unhealthy aversion to carbos, but an unhealthy and bovine-like acceptance of psychobabble.

Makes me long for the days of simple patholigies like "sex addiction"...and Bill Clinton.

Now, where'd I put that bag of potato chips?? I'm gonna be here for awhile....


Anonymous said...

We've gotten to the point where people assume that anything that gives them pleasure is evil. We're almost gnostic in our phobia of things that feel good. I knew a woman once who refused to play video games because she "might like it too much."

I blog because I enjoy it. I refuse to feel guilty for that.

Tish Grier said...

I completely agree, Terry....

the other very troubling thing about this rush to lable is that it diminishes the effects of real mental illness. If we keep pathologizing anything that gives us pleasure, how are we going to know when something really IS a problem?

Something I also noticed in my travels, both in the blogosphere and other nefarious underworlds--a desperate need for people to feel like they are different and special. A persona who lables him/herself with some pathology feels special in some way. That, too, takes away from the seriousness of real conditions as much as it diminishes the significance of destructive pathologies.

I think that's why I'm so bloddy well sick of psychobabble and enjoy my petty vices--including blogging.

Dawno said...

The upside is that if blogging is an addiction then my addiction to it is an 'illness' when my boss decides to fire me for poor productivity I can claim it was due to my addiction to blogging and go on disability.

After being a workers' comp adjuster and working in HR, I tell you, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if someone actually tried that.

Tish Grier said...


I wouldn't be surprised either...esp. since employers are considering more restrictive policies on internet use at work. Someone *could* conceivable claim that they *need* to be on the net because of their addiction.


but, like I said, I think this kind of hoo-ha makes it all the more difficult for people with genuine mental illnesses to not only be taken serioulsy but to get the help/assistance they need.

Just because someone's a whiny neurotic who wants things his/her way doesn't mean they need special treatment.