I get some interesting emails on occasion. Yesterday, one arrived in my inbox offering "experts on addiction." Not for drugs or alcohol, but rather for the new vice on the block – Internet addiction.
The offer was in response to this week’s Newsweek cover story titled"iCrazy" about the same topic. The article says that newly available peer-reviewed research suggests that the internet has become "all-pervasive" and could be making us "not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious."
Those are serious claims, to be sure. And let’s not casually dismiss the web's positive power, either. The Internet, smartphones, tablets, etc., are powerful professional tools, in my line of work as well as yours. Did you know that 98% of journalists start working on a story by doing a Google search? I also use Twitter to mine story ideas, and I keep up with the latest industry trends on various other online watering holes.
Farmers are increasingly online as well. And why not? Markets, weather, news – it’s all right there at the touch of a button. There are also a bevy of farm-centric apps that that help you do your jobs more easily and more efficiently.
Still, it’s pretty easy these days to get sucked out of real life and into digital spaces.
"The Internet is a place you can go and constantly find rewards," says Tony Dokoupil, the author of the Newsweek article. "Every time your phone pings, it’s opportunity … essentially, our brains are rewiring themselves for speed."
Like a classic addict, my gut reaction to all of this was, "I can quit any time I want to." Well, time to put my money where my mouth is. I'll start by breaking up with Facebook. It’s been an uncomfortable space to visit for a while, anyway. Oversharing on Facebook has become the new norm, from overbearing political opinions to snapshots of your breakfast. I even watched a friend’s marriage disintegrate through my Facebook feed over the past few months.
All of this is morbidly fascinating, and with real-time updates, there's always something new to see, so the temptation to "catch up" is ever-present. I think a little break would be good for us. It’s not you, Facebook, it’s me.
What do you think? Is Internet addiction a real problem, or do you think the media is sensationalizing the issue?