Social media and online games have become the new normal for teenagers, but are these activities really making them happy? In a recent study, researchers found that “gaming” was correlated with lower levels of self-esteem. The potential dangers of this addiction can be mitigated by finding ways to improve social skills and diminish negative consequences.
“What Makes It So Hard to Put Down” is a question that has been debated for years. There are many different theories as to why people struggle with their internet addiction, but there are some things you can do to prevent it. Read more in detail here: how to prevent internet addiction.
Note from the editor: The following is an extract from Blake Snow’s book Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting.
The so-called “king complex.”
That is why many people find it difficult to disconnect from the internet, even for a few hours in the evening, on the weekend, or when on vacation. In a nutshell, the internet gives us the feeling of being monarchs. It’s like having your own personal concierge.
“Bring me this,” I say, and it is delivered. “More!” I exclaim. It is in accordance. “There’s more!” It does not let you down. “Allow me to keep an eye on this, that, and the other.” Every time I ask, it responds because it is limitless. I switch to new themes and hobbies when I run out of requests.
The internet must constantly listen to us in order to suit our needs. It devotes its whole attention to us. The internet, unlike people, never fails to notice our presence, our ideas, or our involvement. It’s constantly present. It is never seen outside of the room. It does not take a break. It never fails to give us the impression that we have a full-time personal assistant, if not a team of them.
However, since the internet is unable to sympathize with us, we need it to converse with us. It also accomplishes that today, with a plethora of links, search results, and even voiced responses. It has the decency to state something like “cannot calculate” or “zero results” in the worst-case situation. “Did you say this, that, or something else?” As a result, we ask it a new question.
If the internet is unable to provide what we ask for — say, a physical encounter, creation, or feeling — it will mimic that experience as much as we want from all angles: movies, images, secondhand observations, and evaluations from people who have truly experienced what we’re wanting. Some could even argue that it’s better than the genuine thing.
To put it another way, the internet provides power, or at least the appearance of power. That is the true cause for the internet’s addictive nature. For the first time in human history, serfs may credibly imitate the experience of monarchs and wield control over digital realms – their own imagined piece of reality. On the internet, that is. With a plethora of topics.
As a result, some people misuse the internet more than others. But it’s not the fault of the internet. It belongs to us. Humans, like everything else in life, misuse authority. The internet just so happens to be the most recent and largest misuse of power, at least in the eyes of the general public.
The internet satisfies our want for socializing as well as making us feel strong. Even if it can only deliver a colder, diluted, less meaningful, or synthetic type of sociability, the internet is better than the alternative, even if it fails to duplicate human contact, physical presence, real emotion, or free-flowing discourse.
“Show me how many people I know and make me feel like I’m part in their life,” I tell it, for example. The internet can now accomplish that as well, thanks to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as other networking tools.
On the internet, there are obviously many living persons to communicate with. However, we generally only get to engage with the shards of one, such as a written artifact from a long time ago, such as an old email or even older online remark. We only connect with remnants of persons online, which frequently comes at the price of real-time communication.
Obviously, there are certain exceptions, such as instant messaging and online gaming. But even those, by most measures, fail to transmit nonverbal language, which accounts for more than 70% of conversation.
As a result, the great majority of one’s internet time is spent alone – up to 90%, according to some estimates. To put it another way, internet rulers are lonely at the top. However, unlike real-world rulers, online kings do not always sacrifice relationships by tearing down walls. We choose to ignore them.
How is it possible? After all, we are social beings. Why would someone deliberately endure loneliness, isolation, and boring social interactions in the sake of virtual reality?
Science has the solution. It is divided into two sections. The first is dopamine, a pleasurable neurotransmitter released by the brain that makes us crave, want, and seek out positive experiences. Dr. Susan Weinschenk, a noted behavioral scientist, told me that dopamine, which was previously assumed to be the source of pleasure, “really makes us interested about ideas and feeds our hunt for knowledge.”
That’s a positive thing from an evolutionary sense. Weinschenk adds, “Seeking is more likely to keep us alive than lounging about in a contented stupor.” However, in the current warped circumstances, dopamine becomes an issue. With “The Evolution of Computer Man,” one internet artist effectively depicted this, depicting a slouched chimp evolving into a lurching ape, a tool-using and erect Neanderthal, and finally a Homo Sapien bent over a desktop keyboard or smartphone.
Which gets us to the second half of the answer: the internet provides cheap, immediate, and almost endless satisfaction. An estimated 15% of individuals (and rising) are locked in an eternal dopamine loop under such unusual and revolutionary circumstances.
Remember the time you went online in search of a simple solution, only to spend two hours clicking on links that had nothing to do with the initial question you were looking for? That’s a dopamine cycle in action. It’s the scientific reason we spend more time online than we intend. It explains why we can’t seem to put down our cellphones. It explains why some individuals prefer virtual life to actual life. And, like individuals hooked to chemical stimulants and depressants like cocaine, caffeine, methamphetamines, nicotine, and alcohol, it leads to obsessive disorders.
“Dopamine motivates us to seek, and then we are rewarded for it,” Weinschenk adds. “It’s becoming more difficult to refrain from checking email, messages, site links, or our cellphones to see whether we’ve received a new message or alert.”
Worse still, research indicates that the dopamine system is limitless. Dopamine continues to demand “more, more, more!” because it lacks satiation. And it becomes really insane when there’s an element of surprise thrown in, such as an unexpected email, text, or app alert from who knows what and who knows whom. Surprise! For those who recall their basic college psychology course, it’s exactly like Pavlov’s renowned and classically conditioned dogs.
Weinschenk notes, “It’s the same principle at work with gambling and slot machines.” “Because dopamine is involved in varied reinforcement schedules, dings, visual alerts, or any other indication that a reward is on the way drives our dopamine system into overdrive.”
As a result, we spend more time online and on our phones than we planned. We put our offline lives on hold. It’s a scientific fact.
But it’s really about power. This is supported by history.
Many of the world’s most prominent people have passed away alone. Usually, their quest for power comes at the price of unpaid relationships. They typically find themselves alone towards the end of life, wishing they had spent less time working and more time forming connections (the number two regret of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware’s great study) (number three on her list).
It’s the same with our internet life. Yes, the internet is better than anything else in the world at simulating friendship, community, and communication. However, it isn’t a replacement for the genuine thing.
In reality, there is little evidence that Facebook, Twitter, or other so-called “social” media have boosted the amount of offline social encounters (at least unpaid ones).
The same may be said about the internet as a whole. It’s a fantastic resource – the penicillin of my generation, the information age’s cornerstone, if not more.
However, we have exploited it. We’ve tainted it. As a consequence, we’ve become conceited. “I was a winner online, but a loser off,” one recovered user admitted to me lately.
We’re more “connected” than we’ve ever been, but we’re also more disconnected than we’ve ever been, thanks to the king complex that many of us deal with on a daily basis.
It’s past time for us to assassinate the king.
It’s past time for us to assassinate the king.
Blake Snow has written hundreds of feature pieces for half of the top twenty U.S. media outlets, including CNN, NBC, Fox News, USA Today, Wired Magazine, and a slew of other high-profile magazines and Fortune 500 corporations, over the course of a decade. He lives in Provo, Utah, with his loving family and faithful canine companion. Visit blakesnow.com for additional information.
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