Internet Addiction is nothing new. As far back as the late 1990s, psychologists and academics were mulling over the perils of long hours spent playing online games or typing away in anonymous chat rooms. Despite the innovative appeal, certain factors like limited web functioning, lack of organized social networks and cringe-worthy dial-up prevented most users from going overboard. Now that the Internet has permeated most aspects of everyday life, those days of crackling modems and restrained usage seem almost naive. The idea of going without inter-connectivity isn’t merely inconvenient, it’s also downright impractical.
Although long hours spent online has become the standard, some people feel the need to scale back. As part of its 30-Day Challenge series, GOOD Magazine has rallied its staffers and readers to a month-long Internet fast. “Unplug at Eight” points to various studies and the recent opening of an Internet Addiction therapy center as signs that we could all use a little less web time. The challenge isn’t unreasonable as it allows participants to access their smartphones, laptops, etc., until 8 p.m. each night (a wise caveat for a web-based publication). Similarly, a growing number of people have begun to give up Facebook for religious holidays such as Lent.
Would you participate in one of these challenges? Do you think you could handle a month without your favorite gadgets or rationed Internet time? Would you rediscover an old hobby or would you find yourself hopelessly bored and hosting a block party in your bathroom a la comedian Mark Malkoff?
Personally, I couldn’t give up the Internet or restrict my hours, at least not right now. I have a personal blog to maintain, news sites to read and television shows to watch. Maybe I’ll try the challenge in the autumn, but there’s no rush.
It’s not like I’m addicted or anything...
— Nicole Duncan