Internet Addiction

Few weeks ago while checking emails, I asked myself – why am I checking mails when I’m not on-call nor aware of any serious work issues – at 12:30AM?!  Am I addicted to net?  Is there something called Internet addition?  Too late in the night, a sleepy brain was not ready to ponder much.

Last weekend Sunila reminded me again of possible addiction, when she shouted “You are on laptop for last 2 hours!  Saumya turned the lounge upside down and you are not even aware of it!”  I vainly tried to escape the fiery wrath by helping her to re-arrange the ransacked living room.

What is net addition?  The answer might be different for each one of us.  For me, it is the obsession to check social sites and emails several times a day.  Ok, night as well :-(Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter or other blogs, the temptation to view latest update is too much to resist.  I even carry an internet-enabled mobile to be ‘on line’.  Mind you, I am not talking about work emails, instant messages or updates, when you are at work.  Those are necessary evils.  One need to read, review, and reply those; essential to be considered as a good, proactive, responsive employee.

For someone else, this addiction might be for online games or gambling.  A friend of mine is obsessed with news.  Even if it is about heavy rain prediction for the other side of planet, he will read it completely – and wait for more.  His browser favourites are full of links to news websites; local, national and international.  To watch videos, upload/download images, online shopping, being hours in chat rooms – all of these, if in excess, could be considered as part of net addiction.

One dictionary site defines ‘addiction’ as ‘state of being enslaved or dependent to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming’.  Very true in my case!

No doubt, thanks to social sites I am now in touch with a number of long-lost friends.  However, I now realise that the more time spend on net, the less time I have to be truly social.  Confined to a room staring on laptop monitor can hardly be termed as ‘social’.

You might ask what could go wrong with such an innocent habit.  Apart from, say, being a bit late for appointments, and looking tried and sleepy in office?  A quick search (over internet, of course) reveals the story of Kim Kyung-jae, who collapsed and died after playing computer games at an internet café in South Korea.  Not sure whether the 24-year-old was playing an online or offline game.  No such doubt about the next case.  Qiu Chengwei murdered his friend Zhu Caoyuan for selling an online game weapon!  Qiu lent his “dragon sabre” to Zhu, who went and sold the cyber-sword for 7200 Chinese Yuan.  Just Google above names when you have time for more details…..

Not at all good stories!  I now try to keep myself away from needless surfing.  The best avoidance is to go out for a walk.  It has the added advantage to earn daily quota of exercise as well.  Aha, here’s a warning.  Go for walk without your mobile!  Learned it the hard way. After 5 minutes on my first day’s walk, ‘casually’ checked my emails, and rushed back home to give moral support to a ‘P1’ ticket resolution activity.

If I cannot go out, then I try to join Saumya in her plays.  If that too is not possible (either she is sleeping, or in her “I-am-too-busy-for-you” mood) I pick up the phone and dial friends.  After annoying Abhijeet and Abhishek a couple of times, I made one amendment – change the calling order from alphabetic to random.  Reading, gardening or go out for a swim, alternatives are a lot.  One deviation that I do not want to test/adopt is to watch TV – no point in jumping from frying pan to fire itself.

As in case of all addictions, here too the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ are strong.  Every half-an-hour or so, I feel the urge to log back in.  I hardly sympathised a smoker’s cravings before, but now fully understand the misery.  Hang on there folks… Solidarity is our strength!  United against addiction!! We have nothing to loose but chains….

PS:  Happy to let you know that the options are working for time being.  Watch this space for further updates….

By the way, what are you addicted to on internet?

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