The internet. It’s not a drug that’s making you loopy
Here’s what I’m willing to be believe: a person can actually spend far too much time on the internet. That almost without knowing it we can grow accustomed to the sound of our smartphone going “ping” and scrolling through our Facebook and Twitter feeds before we even get out of bed in the morning.
That being on the Internet can makes us feel intelligent, in the loop and connected to our friends, family, colleagues and peers because we know instantly what everyone is talking about. And yet, by contrast, the Internet can make others feel so anxious that they must commit to periods of being completely offline for their own wellbeing.
Here’s what I’m not willing to believe: that the Internet creates mental illness or is responsible for a whole heap of people going mad.
Or that mothers who send spiteful text messages while breastfeeding are transmitting angry and anxious thoughts to their babies, who will grow up thinking that their mother was around, but also, somehow not.
Note to everyone: mad people were always going to be mad. The Internet didn’t make that happen, their genetics did or some terrible event that happened in their life that they never dealt with. And babies who are being breastfed have one thing on their minds: breastmilk.
The Daily Beast reporter, Tony Doukapil would disagree. He’s used all of these examples, plus a stack more, in this long and very fascinating read that he says proves the internet is making us mad.
More apparently scientific examples behind his theory include the Korean government’s implementation of a late night ban on Internet use for youth. And a Chinese study that has proven white matter on the brain in internet addicts is exactly the same as that found in the brains of drug and alcohol addicts.
If it’s true then this alarming information, but even still, the risk of us being completely wiped out by a widespread bout of Internet psychosis is pretty unlikely.
The real question here is just how much of the population lives are dangerously impacted by the internet?
Here in Australia, my guess would be “very small”. And that’s because of a pesky little thing called money.
For most people, unlimited access to the Internet is prohibited by the following: a) the cost of being online, b) the cost of owning a smartphone c) the cost of paying for an internet connection and d) the likelihood being employed in a job where you’re allowed to be on the Internet all day.
Even Doukapil admits that the most common profile of an internet user, who admits to having a problem, is 40 years of age, white and earns more than $50k pa. How many people do you know that fall into that category?
Finally, it’s important to remind ourselves that any real risk of being completely wiped out by a widespread bout of internet-driven psychosis will always be minimised by human nature. Sure the internet makes certain stuff like shopping, small talk or sharing photos more convenient, but it’s crucial to remember that people can and will always think for themselves.
Follow me on Twitter, but don’t stay too long: @lucyjk
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