A growing body of research in the area of addiction suggests that Internet Addiction Disorder is becoming a real problem, it is a psycho-physiological disorder involving tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; affective disturbances; and interruption of social relationships. The most common one is Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD).
To be diagnosed as having Facebook Addiction Disorder, a person must meet certain criteria. At least 2 or 3 of the following 6 criteria must be present at any time during a 6-8 months period:
1/ The first thing is tolerance. This refers to the need for increasing amounts of time on Facebook to achieve satisfaction and/or significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time. They often have multiple Facebook windows opened at any one time. 3 is usually a sign and over 5 you're helpless.
2/ After reduction of Facebook use or cessation, it causes distress or impairs social, personal or occupational functioning such as wondering why your Vista is so fast and improved etc. These include anxiety; obsessive thinking about what is written on your wall on Facebook etc.
3/ Important social or recreational activities are greatly reduced and or migrated to Facebook. Instead of sending an email you post a message on your friend’s page about canceling a lunch appointment. You now stop answering your phone call from your Mom and insist she should contact you through Facebook chat.
4/ This is getting serious if you start kissing your girlfriend's home page or a VRML virtual walk through a park is your idea of a date.
5/ Your bookmark takes 20 minutes just to scroll from top to bottom or 8 of 10 people in your friend's list you have no idea of who they are.
6/ When you meet people you start introducing yourself by following "see you in Facebook" or your dog has its own Facebook profile. You invite anyone you've met and any notifications, messages and invites reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling.
As we spend more and more time online no questions it can be addictive. Some say that there is no such thing as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). I am not sure we have any answer for that yet. I am sure the pharma companies will be quick to say that there is medication solution out there with psychoactive drugs.
So how many kinds of disorders are out there? Are they really disorders of just the pharma companies want us to believe there are. Here is my list and don't count that they will make it to the medical dictionary. Maybe a start-up can come up with an idea to help solving this problem.
- Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD)
- YouTube Addiction Disorder (YAD)
- Google Search Addiction Disorder (GSAD)
- Widget Addiction Disorder (WAD)
- Twitter Addiction Disorder (TAD)
- Blackberry Addiction Disorder (BAD)
I did not include the Mac Addiction Disorder (MAD) as there is no cure for this. I have many friends who are suffering from this and there's no sign that they are getting out. When we walk into an Apple store we realize that there’s nothing else for us to buy. That’s the first sign of MAD and I know many people suffer from this one without knowing it. The only cure is keep buying the next Mac products, whatever it is. Is addiction a problem or information overload is the bigger problem? Between blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, MSN, LinkedIn, Digg, and whatever next new social networking apps, we can keep ourselves busy 24 by 7. There is still much hand-wringing and second-guessing among those who spend a lot of their lives online both at work and at home as to whether their online activities is any addiction problem. When telephone was available for the mass for the first time, a lot of people started spending a lot of time on the phone, was that an addiction problem? Is iPod an addiction? There are people in my office listening to their iPods while at work and my teenager sons pretty much using their iPods 24 hrs, they listen to it even when they go to bed. Is that also addiction? Or it is just a fetish?
Call it Facebook addiction or fetish, I see this as progress of enlightenment for the modern life. Our modern culture is unconsciously penetrated by the information (useful and useless) and we are all struggling with it. Social networks collapse the difference between culture and practical life and our culture is codified and distributed through the Internet. As a result the ‘culture’ industry is now being expanded beyond fashion, music and magazines.
Much of this information that we’re exposed to on the Internet does not at all ‘signify’ true information or freedom from deception but it has reduced significantly the impact of any mass deception. The people's need to connect, along with the growth of social connectivity, would raise the quality of the social whole to a new and higher level. The organic composition of our social networks is growing. That determines networks as means of finding self-identities and not only as resources. Addiction may not be such a bad thing after all.
Have a great weekend.
Image source: Andres Rueda