Friends have suggested that I might be suffering from internet addiction. After researching the subject, I have to admit that I probably am, but alternatives are less attractive. What are the signs that a computer/internet addict will display? Do you find yourself among the select few?

  • Are you unable to set time restraints on computer use. You promise yourself an hour on line and you take 12. Or you say you'll stop logging on for a week and just can't do it?
  • Are you dishonest with yourself or with others about the time you're on line or about your activities on the web?
  • Have you had problems with you friends and/or family as a result of your time or activities on the web?
  • Do you log on and become an animal, entering areas that compromise your moral and ethical values because you can hide your identity?
  • Do friends and family feel you are attaching too much importance to your computer? Do you become defensive when others object to the time you spend on the computer?
  • Do you have mixed feelings about doing what you do on the web? A combination of euphoria and guilt brought on by either the inordinate amount of time spent on the computer or by the abnormal behavior acted out while using the computer.
  • Are you subject to depression or anxiety when for some reason you loose your connection with the web for a protracted period of time?
  • Even when you are away from the machine, do you frequently think about the computer and what you plan to do when you're on line?
  • Do you use the computer to mitigate anxiety, irritation or depression caused by something in another other area in your life. Do you use the computer to focus attention away from uncomfortable feelings that are happening inside.
  • Do you spend more money on computer hardware, on-line connections and the like than you can really afford?

For every one of these questions I have to answer yes but I really don't want to change.

Some suggestions concerning internet addiction:

1. Use alternate media. Instead of typing every little note out, try to write. Now I know that most people who are internet addicts struggle mightily with penmanship (penpersonship?), but the attempt to write by hand will keep you from going into the word processor only to make a sudden three hour detour to dalnet.

2. Get away from the computer, at work and at home. At work intentionally situate yourself away from terminals connected to the internet. If all the terminals are connected to the internet, revert to step one and rely on manual composition. If you are like me and have to be at a terminal connected to the internet, choose the slowest connection (usually a dialup) instead of engaging in multiple background mp3 downloads. Take frequent breaks at work if possible, when at home go for a walk. Sounds trivial, but I've found that my legs become so cramped after long sessions that I don't want to continue for that day. The continuous need to stretch may lessen the amount of time spent on the internet, especially if you are like me and already have a job that is heavily dependent on computer work.

3. Porn is embarassing. Use this to your favor. Unless you are the IT professional at your workplace as I am, you may want to consider how time consuming it is to do directory hiding, automated double checking cache dumps, and complex file chains around the network. Don't forget the simple liability of a coworker or employer opening the door only to find you salivating (or worse) over creative uses for molded plastic. Now while your boss may indeed have a dildo fetish, it is safe to say that this discovery would be grounds for termination. While it is very likely that at home you may be the main user of a few systems connected to the internet, systems shared with other people may give you the opportunity to let them learn file management, a good counterbalance for late night lesbian orgy manias.

If all else fails ...

4. Try self-imposed deprivation. This last step requires a lot of willpower, but may prove useful. When in college I decided to save US $100 and not purchase broadband for the semester, instead trooping on down to the computer lab to do anything that requires internet access. After trudging through crappy and sludgy weather to make some interlibrary loan requests, IRC all-nighters became less and less attractive. Again, the addiction may be too great as is, but increased effort to access the internet may provide the resistance necessary to reevaluate why so much time is spent groping aimlessly for pr0n.

I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. It is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I do before I go to sleep. I cannot imagine ever having lived without it. It is my most important social, creative, recreational, and professional outlet. When my broadband connection goes down, I break into a nervous sweat. I will frantically search for my old serial modem and try to find a dial-up number. I will set up impractical and ultimately foolish connections to make sure I’m not missing it for that hour or less: cell phone to laptop to hub to desktop, neighbor’s wireless network to cantenna to access point to desktop. It is how I define myself: my website feels like an extension of me. When it goes down, for whatever reason, I check it repeatedly, hoping that it’ll be back, staring at the error messages—like a paralysis victim staring at his non-functioning body parts in a futile effort to awaken them once again. It is my definitive source for information: if I can’t find it on Google, it probably doesn’t exist. After being away for more then four hours, I begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. I get nervous. I feel lost. I worry. What could have happened that I don’t know about? Am I missing an important e-mail? Should I have just stayed home so I could be sure that the precious Internet wouldn’t disappear?

And you know what? Thinking about it makes me smile.

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