Internet Addiction

Addictions grow and fester with dissatisfaction. The fact that we live in a society whose walls are plastered with advertisments offering to fulfil every conceivable whim and desire, taunting us with their absence, has made us all terribly dissatisfied. It’s all “I want I want I want”. When these desires are thwarted by lack of money and time we comfort ourselves with something warm, homely and pleasurable. For some, it is alcohol. For others, it is food. For me, it is the internet.

Like all addictions, it took me by surprise. One minute I was fine, the next I was slavishly clicking around the net: posting on discussion boards, reading endless articles by bloggers and journalists, looking on e-bay for a bargain and generally getting sucked further and further into the vortex; a fly on a sticky web, flailing, waiting to be consumed. I would justify it to myself in the weakest terms, as an alcoholic justifies their pint of port for breakfast, saying just the once and then I’ll never use it again. But five minutes later there would be a fact that I wanted to check or an mp3 that I wanted to download and the familiar crunch and cry of the modem would start up. Five minutes turned into fifty minutes as I checked my e-mail accounts, all three of them. With each “no unread messages” sign my heart would sink further. I would be positively suicidal if it said 4 new messages and they were all spam.

The worst thing is that I thought that I understood addiction. I am a devotee of addiction counsellor Allen Carr. His book on smoking (The Easyway to Stop Smoking) I thought a work of amazing psychological insight, destroying like an angry god the build-up of false consciousness that afflicts the addicted. Furthermore I thought that his insights were transferable to any addiction . . . and yet I can’t seem to be able resist the temptation to check my e-mails or to see if my e-bay auctions have had any bidders. Even just thinking about it has me eyeing up the cheery e of the “internet explorer” logo . . . No, I must resist. If only I could intellectualise the reasons why to do so would be such a waste of time . . .

And with that we come to the nub of the problem. The reason the internet is so appealing to someone like me, who lives for the decadent pleasures of the intellect, is that I have found, in my little corner of the internet, constantly updated pages that frig the centres of the brain where momentary pleasures take place. It is an easy pleasure, like junk food, but of little or no substance. I can find out facts about absolutely anything with a quick visit to google. I risk becoming a cyberstalker when I found out that google can unearth all the skeletons that people thought had been buried long ago.

This entry wasn’t going to be a journal piece. It has so far taken about five minutes to write after absolutely no consideration. I suspect that my addiction has decided that it should make it a journal piece so that it can get back on the internet all more quickly. Indeed, I am sure that I had more things to say, but my addiction is so powerful.

I think I first became aware of my addiction when I saw C_____ rush to his computer to check his messages on Friendster. It was then that I realised that I am exactly the same, forgoing civilized behaviour for electronic consummation with the screen and its polymorphous perversity. It reminds me of Better Than Life, a fictional game that features heavily in the novelizations of Red Dwarf, wherein people become locked into a computer game that satisfies their deepest desires. Is this not me with the internet?

So, how do I break through the meniscus of this vessel I am drowning in? How do I shirk off this sticky web?

First step: Understand the nature of the addiction. The pleasures are manifold, but as long as I can demonstate to myself their inadequacy then . . .

Second: Go to a public library and look at the gormless nerds chuckling over a message board (I am thinking of a specific girl in New Malden library). Ask myself: do you want to be like that.

Third: ?