And it truly is a “break” from an addiction, to yank eyes and hands away from this screen, this internet, this iBook, iPhone, iPad, and the blaring news about human suffering in China that enables the cheap production of i-everything (e.g. this, on the iPad), and how much of a hypocrite I am to even covet these sleek, powerful, beautiful devices, much less own and use them.
What shall I do? What shall I do? How shall I fill the yawning spaces?
Cyber addict, computer addiction, online addict, Internet Addictive Disorder—all these terms have been introduced into our English lexicon within the past ten or fifteen years, as computer technology defines the dark side of its phenomena.
Addiction is never easy regardless what kind. When people think if addiction the first image that comes to mind is usually drugs or alcohol because our society has focused on these addictions and the circumstances that lead to those illnesses.
Computer addiction is more modern but the repercussions, like a drug addiction, are the same. The symptoms are similar. The drug addict will experience comfort and a sense of well being knowing that drugs are in his or her possession. The computer addict will sense a similar calming effect after he or she sits down at the computer. The computer junkie, like the drug junkie, cannot stop. After being asked or told time and again to log off—the computer addict will simply tune out the requests and continue to game or browse or chat or do whatever it is that he or she does with their computer. After a while, not much more in life seems worth pursuing because all the computer addict wants to do is hang out on the computer—totally devoid of the reality that is life such as school, work, family obligations, household chores, and/or socializing with friends and family.
Computer addicts are moody, especially when they have to spend time away from the computer. Sometimes cases are so extreme, computer junkies will fabricate stories just so they can have more time to spend on the computer rather than going somewhere with a spouse or a friend. Many times work or school will suffer because all spare time is spent gaming or chatting instead of working on an important project for an employer or a class that does not include the assistance of the computer.
Physical symptoms are also prevalent after a person’s computer hobby turns into a full-blown addiction. Ailments such as carpal tunnel, irregular sleep patterns, blurred vision, headaches, weight loss, and even a lack of personal hygiene are all symptomatic of the break down computer addict’s experience, indicating illness and/or a need for outside intervention.
In extreme cases, the computer addict will turn to acts of violence, especially when time spent on the computer is threatened. To even suggest taking away the computer or limiting time, a computer addict could turn vicious, like an animal threatened, as the recent case out of South Korea demonstrated. Last Friday a 22-year-old man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for beating his mother to death. He beat his mother to death because she “criticized” his computer habits and his fondness for online gaming.
This is hard to imagine but people can actually die after spending too much time in front of the computer without reasonable breaks in between. This past March a man did just that after being online for five days straight—he actually died right there at his computer.
In one of the most heinous and obvious signs of computer addiction was when a couple left their real life child to fend for herself while they spent all of their time raising a “virtual child” on the Internet.