Here is your depressing study for the week; the internet is creating a society of depressed madmen. Or at least that’s the takeaway I got from this article titled, “Is The Web Driving Us Mad?”
According to the article, prolonged and near-constant exposure to technology like the internet and smartphones has serious negative effects. This is nothing new, of course. But researchers are now finding that the effects aren’t just limited to that, “staring at a screen all day will make your eyes fall out of your head” warning your mother used to give you. No, it seems that “The brains of Internet addicts…look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts” (pg 4). And it seems there’s a good chance that most of us are internet addicts these days.
According to the article, Americans are “staring at a screen for at least eight hours a day” and “the average person, regardless of age, sends or receives about 400 texts a month.” Given that one of the (seemingly-arbitrary) markers for internet addiction which the article mentions is “… spending more than 38 hours a week online,” there’s a fairly good chance you’re an internet junkie if you’ve spent enough time on the internet to discover my blog. (The silver-lining to that statement is that, as of the time I’m writing this, my blog still has zero views. So congratulations on not spending enough time on the internet to find it, I suppose, you web-raddled addict.)
The article also mentions the rise in ADHD and OCD over the past decade, references a few rare and severe cases of computer-dependence which resulted in death, and concludes by saying Americans are all addicted to Xanax and it’s not too late to save our brains from the internet.
Wait, Xanax? Did I read that right? Ah, yes. It says, right here, that “…in a way, it doesn’t matter whether our digital intensity is causing mental illness, or simply encouraging it along, as long as people are suffering. Overwhelmed by the velocity of their lives, we turn to prescription drugs, which helps explain why America runs on Xanax…” The last paragraph of a five page article about the internet seems an odd place to start discussing prescription drugs. Perhaps it was mentioned earlier in the article and I just missed it? Let me double check.
I double-checked. That’s definitely the first, and last, time prescription drugs are mentioned in this article. But, despite the seemingly out of place conclusion, it was an interesting read. Perhaps if you have time, you want to read it yourself.
Yeah, I bet you have time to read an article on the computer. You insane, internet-gobbling addict.
Also, it would very remiss of me to conclude this post without wishing a happy birthday to Nikola Tesla, the genius whose many brilliant inventions helped contribute to this tortured, pseudo-fulfilling existence on the internet which we find ourselves drowning in. (Or perhaps they didn’t. I don’t really know much about how the internet works, but I’m trying really hard to tie in that article I was writing about to Tesla, so that this post appears to be one mostly-coherent train of thought. Is it working?)
Here is a most humorous comic from The Oatmeal celebrating Mr. Tesla.
And here is an article rebutting several claims the Oatmeal comic makes, as well as commentary from the Oatmeal defending itself. This one is both factual and funny!