Addicted to the net?

Hello my name is Fred and I’m addicted to the Internet.

If that sounds like the opening of an alcoholic anonymous meeting – you’re not far wrong. There are a growing number of people out there who are becoming entwined in the world wide web and are finding it difficult to lead normal lives as more and more of their time is spent in front of their computer.

Remember that first day when you connected to the Internet. I do. I discovered that our company eMail system had a connection to the Internet. With a series of long convoluted commands I managed to send an eMail to a friend in Switzerland. Sending wasn’t nearly as much fun as receiving his reply and I distinctly remember walking away with a new sense of individual power – the ability to communicate across the world. It all seemed innocent enough – but for many it is the start or a downward spiral out of everyday existence and into a world where computers and cyberspace dominate their lives.

Check out some of the following symptoms and see if they sound familiar to you?

· You can’t wait to get home in order to dial into the Internet
· You spend more than 3 hours a day browsing the world wide web
· You’ve phoned in sick after surfing the net until the early hours of the morning
· Morning arrives and you find that you’ve been online since the previous evening
· You’d rather chat online than go out and socialise with friends

Dr Maressa Orzack operates a web site called Computer Addiction Services where she deals with Computer Addiction, Internet Addictive Disorder or Cyberaddiction. Dr Orzack likens Computer Addiction with pathological gambling or compulsive gambling. The problem, she says is not isolated to the sufferer but affects everyone who is in contact with the addicted person.

Australian Carol Parker’s book, cynically titled, ‘The Joys of Cyber Sex’ detailed her fight with the online world. From peering over her husbands shoulder “to see what these chat rooms were all about”, she got hooked until eventually it ruined her marriage and changed her life completely. When she wrote her biography she used pencil and paper in a coffee shop so as not to be lured back into the world of pseudo- personalities.

Computers and the Internet are making inroads into most areas of our lives, we are all faced with the challenge of using these resources responsibly without letting them encroach on our lives in a destructive way. For those already addicted there are a number of resources available to help you wean yourself away from the online world. I have provided links to some of them below. The irony is that most resources are available on the Net!

This seeing digital is dedicated to Mervyn Gerszt who passed away on the 22nd September 1997. We’ll remember you fondly Merv and will miss you online.