The use of the internet is pervasive in our culture. So much that the American Psychiatric Association is recommending further research on the condition called “Internet Use Disorder” in the upcoming diagnostic manual DSM V.
The disorder primarily refers to Internet gaming, however, it does include the criteria of “withdrawal symptoms when internet is taken away.” Sound familiar?
Addiction is not the only mental health condition that the internet can trigger. The other one is depression.
A recent article in the Scientific American suggests that people who rapidly move around on dozens of websites, engaging in fleeting contact, are most likely to get depressed:
“Peer-to-peer file sharing, heavy emailing and chatting online, and a tendency to quickly switch between multiple websites and other online resources all predict a greater propensity to experience symptoms of depression. Quickly switching between websites may reflect anhedonia (a decreased ability to experience emotions), as people desperately seek for emotional stimulation. Similarly, excessive emailing and chatting may signify a relative lack of strong face-to-face relationships, as people strive to maintain contact either with faraway friends or new people met online.”
It is the depth of emotion that is seen as critical for normal affect. The enormous amount of distraction that’s offered online seduces us into paying less and less attention towards a single topic — or people, for that matter.
Another phenomenon is loneliness.We do sit in front of our laptops mostly by ourselves, of course. There may be other family members around, but we tend to not engage much with them when the computer is on.
Even when talking with friends online, like on Facebook, there is a strange kind of loneliness that arises out of peer pressure, as an interesting reflection in hearty magazine point out: “The loss of a person’s ability to think differently than the people surrounding him is, in and of itself, a mode of INsanity that has everything to do with loneliness.”
The dynamic gives a whole new meaning to the term “alone in the crowd.”
Modern man as isolated, intimidated, disconnected and constantly distracted — not exactly an appealing vision of the future.