Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confessions of an Internet Addict

I, my friends, am an internet addict. I crave the internet...need it even. What would my life be without it? How would I find out how much money I have left this month? How would I follow the news outside of Chapel Hill (sorry, DTH)? How would I be able to organize my life and check all of my correspondence (sorry, Google nerds)? How would I stay in tune with the world?

These are all questions that we could all easily ask ourselves if there were suddenly no internet. I realize that there may never be 'no internet' in these times, especially in a place such as Chapel Hill, but think about how empty your life would feel without the tools which the internet provides you on a daily (perhaps hourly, etc.) basis. I, for one, keep multiple windows of Mozilla Firefox up in my computer at all times, unless I am rebooting my machine. In one window I will have GMail, different news stories, and other daily tasks. In another window I will keep school pages such as Blackboard, our own COMP 380 homepage, library documents and other school-related pages. In perhaps a third (gasp, if you didn't for the second!) window I will keep items of a personal nature, whether it be research on a music group, upcoming events which I wish to attend, or any other myriad of things.

Now my grandparents, and even my parents may say "How can you possibly keep up with all of those things at once?". The fact of the matter is that I cannot possibly keep up with three pages (in all maybe nine tabs of information) of new-fangled internet at once, but I like to have all options for information available at my unpredictable choosing. I know people who document their entire day-by-day life on Google; if by some miraculous happenstance that were to go away they would not know what to do. I simply do not think that this is outside the norm for today's society.

Now this is all obviously a bit of an overstatement, but think about how the average student today is completely reliant on the internet for most day-to-day tasks. I feel like half of the work that we turn in is submitted online these days, most of this class couldn't figure out how much money they currently possessed if it weren't for online banking, and without (Your News Source Here) Online nobody would have significant dinner conversation. Perhaps this too is overstated, but the fact of the matter is that nearly all of the people that I know rely on the internet for more than just menial tasks and information. Most people I know need the internet in order to survive in today's modern-age world.

If anyone read the fist reading of the week, entitled "What is Internet & Web Addiction?" you might have read the diognostic criterea of a meek and depressed internet fiend who feels powerless and lost without the use of the internet. You might have seen examples of "addicting" sights such as ESPN, Yahoo, and Facebook. You might have seen information about a Chinese clinic to treat internet addiction. Sign me up! Who doesn't check certain sites with disturbing frequency (pulease, all you Facebook stalkers out there) or feel lost and unconnected without the readily available tools of e-mail and more broadly the internet? I might as well just check in to the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital and go 'cold turkey' because by any definition that my parents and grandparents would give, I am addicted to the internet.

I need to 'use' the internet at least once every day to feel alive. Sometimes I 'use' as many as 10-20 times per day. I get a warm, tingly feeling every time I see the UNC-1 network fully connect to my laptop. I, my friends, am addicted to the internet.


  1. Though I would not say I am addicted to the internet, I do find myself often times wondering who may be on facebook chat or what new viral video is taking the web by storm. In these times, I much like yourself, will find myself trapped on the internet for hours. However, college students who may despise the internet are still required to go online several times a day in order to be succesful in their studies. In a sense, we are required to become web addicts in order to survive as college students.

  2. I feel that our generation grew up during the world wide web boom. The computer has greatly improved from our childhood to adulthood. Therefore, we have such a different lifestyle from our parents and grandparents. With such high emphasis on technology today, it seems like we need to know how to use the computer and internet. The internet has grown so much that you can basically do and get anything you want. If we didn’t know how to use the internet, then it can be very costly for our future. Our University also requires every student to have a laptop. This goes to show how computers and internet are important part of our college life. I would not say that we are internet addicts, but the internet is just highly incorporated in our daily lives. I primarily used the internet for sport scores, weather, email, and school work. It is possible that I can get all this information in a hard copy form, but the internet allows me to access the digital version which is available at my own convenience. I actually lived in a house where the internet didn’t work for a month. The first couple days were rough to go without internet but as time went by I was able to adapt my life with minimum internet use. The only time I used the internet was when I went to class. I guess this shows that my lifestyle is not that dependent on the internet.

  3. Crazy as it sounds, I believe that either all of us (UNC students) are addicted to the internet, or none of us. I say this because we all use it all the time, over and over again on daily/hourly/every 15 minute period of time. I suppose that since all of us use it all the time, that is actually the norm? People who don't check their email on a daily basis are weird, and people who don't respond to my emails within an few hours piss me off! In this day and age, its normal to rely on the internet for banking, friends, news, music, etc. We are busy people! We need things that are fast and convenient, yet give us the same amount of information that the traditional means did. Its not addiction, its normal.

    ** Not to say that some people who are online 24/7 and get mad when they aren't near a computer aren't addicted, because they probably are. But to the general UNC population, needing the internet to get things done and receive/send information isn't addition, its survival and normal!

  4. To go along with what Steven said, since we grew up have computers right at our finger tips we have almost forgotten what the library is to some extent. I would much rather look and article up on the web than to have to look through stacks and stacks of books in the library. But, I too feel that this is a normal feeling to have. We've become dependent on being able to receive emails almost every second of the day because of cell phones and PDA's. I would not die if I was unable to check my email for a few days- I sometimes even enjoy going on vacation to islands where my phone doesn't have service so I can truly "relax". In today’s day and age (especially college students/ professors) we are all "addicted" to the internet" but I do not feel this is necessarily bad.

  5. I am humbled and impressed by your admission, and must have to agree with it myself. I'm not entirely sure if I'm more addicted to the internet itself or the fact that I'm connected to an endless source of information and people. Within minutes, we can order tickets online, check our emails, have a chat with a friend, and download new music. The speed and connectedness of it all is truly indicative of our generation. I do fear, however, that we will all become addicted to the internet.

    I strive everyday to tear myself away from my computer and go outside, be with friends, study and do homework for my classes. These things are tough (haha), but necessary for my full experience of life. I fear that our generation will become so engrained in our digital and virtual experiences that these things will be pushed to the wayside. After seeing Wall-E and witnessing their characters' virtual worlds, I am evermore aware of my own use and overuse of the internet.

    I must say, though, as I will be volunteering in Guatemala for all of next year, the daunting thought of being abroad for a year is eased extremely by the presence of the internet (and therein Skype, email, Gchat, etc). I can still stay connected to my friends and update them via blogs. The internet eases these issues, but, like all things in life, must be taken with a grain of salt and used in moderation.

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  7. Although I'm not really addicted to the internet, I know my life would become a lot harder without it. As digital life has replaced our original way of living, internet has become not only a tool to facilitate our life but also an attitude towards life.

    We obviously need this tool to communicate with others and make sure we are not updated. We communicate mostly through e-mails many times a day. In fact, e-mails has dominated our way of communication. It has become a major and even a official way to communicate among people, replacing many other traditional ways. Imagine a college student in UNC, who is not using an email account at all or is barely using the internet. How could he/ she keep a way living like that? While others use emails to arrange things, he/ she might need to make tons of calls everyday to do so. And if he/ she is in this class, COMP 380, how would he/ she be able to finish this weekly blog response assignment without using the internet? I mean, my grandparents do not use the internet at all but they can still live happily without it. But, for people in our age today, we have been living in a community full of the internet, how could we maintain a life without it since we were born with and so used to all these technologies?

  8. I totally agree that I need the Internet during the school year, I need to check my email and check Blackboard, but that is only because it is a requirement of universities today. I definitely do not think I am addicted, even though I have up 4 tabs right now. I do what I have to because that is what is required. When I go home in the summer or for breaks, I never get online, I never check my email or get on Facebook. Some of you might think that is crazy, but I work a lot and I would rather spend time with my friends and family. I think it depends on the person, but I only use then Internet when I have to, yes I stay on too long sometimes, but at the end of the day I don't have to be on the Internet 24/7. I don't crave it, or think about it, it is a great technology, but I don't need it to make my day complete.

  9. I agree with many of the above statements about the internet being a kind of means for survival in the college environment. For many of us, much of the time we spend online is time that we have to for reading assignments, communicating with school group members and professors, submitting work, researching, and the list goes on. While we obviously use the internet (probably too much) for our personal enjoyment as well, it has become the most efficient way of taking care of business. This is the generation of new media and I can confidently say that things will never go back to traditional media. Of course we can read print newspapers, look up our classmates numbers in a print directory or submit hard copies of all of our assignments; but the reality is that the internet makes all of these things much more efficient, and our society is one that loves efficiency.

  10. W. Duckett. That was so brave of you. I also spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet. But I agree with Emily Riehl's statement that we're more addicted to the endless supply of information that the internet brings, than any other part of it. I don't really like AIM, and haven't used it since high school. But I do check news sites constantly.

    But I think these news web sites are best used for just snippets of information -- just a short article. I don't know many people that will sit down and read one article for 25 minutes. That's not what the internet is for, it's for easily digestible pieces.

    When it comes down to it, if I want to really enjoy the news, I'll buy a newspaper and read it in print. I feel a lot of people would agree.

  11. I don't know what all you crazy people are talking about here...I'm totally not addicted to the internet at all. Ok, that is completely untrue and by the bold statements of Mr. Duckett, we can all get into agreement that our lives are completely controlled now by the internet. That also may be an overstatement, but certainly our world is a completely different place than it was in the 1970's when the internet was created.

    I often find myself in the same situation as Will with all of the windows and the tabs and the email and the iTunes and Pandora whathaveyou. It really is pretty absurd when one takes a step back and looks at their own internet usage and realizes that it is way more than you would bet on. Our world is dominated by our constant connection to each other and the "endless supply of information" that David and Emily speak of. We are so enthralled with the fact that something new can be put into our brains everyday (from music to YouTube to news stories to gossip etc.) that sometimes we really lose sight of what is really important. I think that as a whole, our society is "addicted" to the internet on the basis that we change our daily lives and modes of communication because the internet makes it so easy.

  12. I think its easy to assume an internet addiction, based upon one's own personal daily useage. However, lest we not forget, a fully functional society existed in America before the dawn of the internet. People managed their money using checkbooks/balance sheets, their social life with planners/agendas, and accessed current events through the newspaper (which is rapidly approaching obsolescence). We've adopted several applications of the internet into our daily lives in many cases because they are easier, faster, and cheaper. However, if the internet suddenly vanished, i do believe we would survive with few adverse health effects, if any. Our generation, although highly integrated with the internet, is young and still tractable. We might have to substitute facebook for phone calls and email for letters but the last time I checked you don't need internet to spell happiness.

  13. I believe to a certain extent everyone is "addicted" to the internet, only because of our dependence to it. You listed the numerous amounts of websites that all college students probably visit on a daily basis. But are we really addicted to these sites, or just in need of the information they contain? I think being addicted to the internet is different, such as people wasting hours away on youtube or facebook. We are all guilty (to an extent) of being addicted to these sites, but it's not like you can't live a normal life without them either. Comparing real addictions (such as drug and alcohol abusers) to what we consider an "internet addiction" and I think we will all see that our "addiction" is really just a want, and in the realm of things it is potentially not too damaging.

  14. I, too, am an Internet addict, and likely more so than you, W. Duckett. In fact, I refuse to write "Internet" without capitalizing the first letter of the word. I am the "Google nerd" you mentioned, and the person who relies on the Internet to carry out daily tasks.

    I use the Internet to maintain my calendar, to-do list, and address book, bank compile news headlines specific to my interests, and all of this MUST be in sync with my phone. Yes, I can't even handle the computer-to-computer walk without Internet access.

    However, I find myself able to escape my dependencies when escaping urban life for time in the outdoors. In fact, I tend to "forget" my phone charger when leaving town for the weekend in order to remain completely out of touch.

    So, while the severity of my Internet dependencies surpasses that which is nauseatingly average, I know I can function without it. My only concern, really, is maintenance of my vision after so many years of starring at computer screens for eight hours every day.