Ok I have a lot to say about this topic so I don’t know how long this post will be, bear with ok? Sit back and listen, or… read.
“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” – Eric Schmidt
I really want to believe I’m not addicted to the internet, but I probably am. I mean, hello, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest… the list goes on. But I don’t believe it’s damaging us as a society. It’s only sceptics who think that. They’re probably the same people who were deprived of TV when they were younger, or maybe radio. Who knows?
It’s a question people ask themselves at least once in their lives. And let me remind you, it is not just teenagers and young adults who spend all of their me on the Internet. I see adults do exactly the same thing. One of my siblings spend all their time on snapchat looking at their phone, and they don’t care if they make stupid faces when taking selfies in public. And one of my parents spend all of their time on Facebook and gets angry if we try to disturb them or ask them a question when they are using Facebook. They put their WHOLE lives on the internet, whether it’s for a self-employed job where social media is necessary, or to tell all their friends about an argument they had with a family member to try to get sympathy from their friends. I see adults AND young kids using their phones in public, not even attempting to make conversation with the people they are out and about with. They may as well stay at home.
I use the Internet a lot, of course, I wouldn’t be able to blog otherwise, but I know when to stop and communicate with people offline. My siblings and one of my parents do not know when to stop. And it can get frustrating. If you want to have a nice family day out, you want to be with your family without their phones being taken out of their pockets every 5 seconds to check snapchat or WhatsApp. But that rarely happens. I went to a family dinner the other week and 3 out of the 4 of us not including me were on our phones, and I just sat back stunned and shocked. It was only when the meal came out that the phones went away. It was for a family members birthday but we might as well have been at home. Everywhere we go, either one of my siblings without question searches for free WiFi and within seconds are saying “there’s free WiFi” or “there’s no WiFi”. The Internet does interfere with everyday life, but it’s not all bad.
I just listened to a news broadcast with this exact question being addressed. Everyone was being interviewed not just young people. Because the thing is, even though technology is a relatively modern thing, there will always be something that the previous generation will disagree with. Think about when television was first put in everyone’s homes… parents didn’t like the fact that their kids would watch it all the time. And before the television, it was radio, and telephones. These days, it’s the Internet and in the years to come it will probably be virtual reality and robots. See what I’m getting at? And my generation (20-somethings) will be saying to our kids “I remember when the Internet was invented” and “you should spend less time in that virtual reality of yours”. Our parents disagree with our technological advances and we’ll disagree of our future kid’s technological advances because we didn’t grow up with it. It’s sort of like music, which has been around forever basically. When our parents were our age they had a completely different music scene to us, and music changes, like technology. My dad was watching the news with us and when this story came on TV just now, all of us laughed because we were ALL on our devices and we just knew. It’s evolution and you have to deal with it.
According to the news story, people spend on average 25 hours a week on the internet. I, however, think it’s more than that since I’m online every day for most of the day, and I’m still not addicted to the Internet. But I know when to get offline to spend time with people. I don’t know what the Internet was originally created for, but many of us use it to connect with other people. We use it as an escape from our day to day lives and to communicate with people not in our immediate surroundings. I don’t know about you, but having to talk to the people around you over a long period of time can be exhausting, and sometimes you want to be alone. The internet allows you to talk to and seek advice and information from people all around the world. You’d never be able to do that decades ago. The Internet was created as a tool, just like a hammer, which was used to change lifestyle and culture and where would we be without it? And the hammer was never seen as an evil or life ruining tool, was it? Hammers are man-made and so is the Internet. We created it for ourselves.
While someone in the same room as you is criticising your Internet usage, telling you to “socialise”, you may be talking to 5 other people on the other side of the country. Technology allows us to interact with people more than ever, because, in the old days, it would take DAYS or weeks for letters to be sent between two people and you’d be left talking to your parents and siblings. Without the Internet or even electricity, we’d be stuck in the 1800s. No-one would want that, but I guess, we wouldn’t know any different. Don’t get me wrong, letters are a fun way of staying in touch with people, but wouldn’t you rather be able to stay in contact with your friends and family in a faster and more reliable way? If a person is on their phone talking to someone else, it’s probably because they don’t want to talk to you, or they have more to say to the person the are speaking to online than to you. TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT CAUSE SOCIAL ISOLATION. People who say that are only saying that because they don’t like the fact that the person on their phone is not talking to them.
Imagine if technology or the internet did not exist? Society would definitely not be as advanced as it is now. Without television, we wouldn’t know what dangers, disasters or scandals are going on around the world or be able to keep up with the Kardashians and without the Internet, well, I dread to think what would have happened.
When you think of addiction you think of dependency and withdrawal so much so that it becomes the centre of their lives and they can’t live without it. So in that way I guess you can be addicted to the Internet on some level but there probably needs to be more research conducted on its effects on the brain did whether it has the same effects as substance abuse on the brain’s physiology. There’s a difference though, between being addicted to the Internet and just using it a lot. For example you may drink alcohol but you don’t necessarily have to be an alcoholic. And you may feel happy and less anxious in both situations but that doesn’t mean you’re addicted. Sometimes the internet needs to be used which is different from substances which don’t need to be used. We all use the Internet for finding information; it’s what we live for. Information is one of the easiest things to find nowadays and we don’t have to go to the library to search through books that are 20 years old and haven’t been updated.
In conclusion, I don’t think I’m addicted to the Internet and chances are you probably won’t be either, you just use it a lot. There are millions of things we couldn’t do if we didn’t have the internet. And it does come with pros and cons but doesn’t everything? Now go and use the Internet without feeling guilty.
This post is based on this post by Gary Vaynerchuck.