Friday, March 28, 2008

Internet Addiction: real or virtual?

A very interesting, well articulated piece on Internet addiction in this Podcast from CBC Radio's show "Search Engine."

Host Jesse Brown talks about how Internet Addiction was initially posed as a 'joke', but then became part of the vernacular that some of us are trying to shake. There's also a really interesting interview he has with Dr. Jerald Block, who's been trying to get the DSM-V to include Internet Addiction.

However, one might see how the argument is very chicken/egg in that to get more research funding to investgate whether or not Internet Addiction really exists, the disorder needs to be officially recognized on the DSM-V. But then, how do we avoid incorrectly including something of this nature that is still so hotly contested and outright rejected by some even in the medical community?

I highly recommend anyone considering the concept of Internet addiction to take a listen. The circularity of logic in the interview quickly becomes apparent... but I leave it up to you to decide, cuz you probably already know my opinion on things. (and if you don't, take a look at some of my pubs on the right-hand side of this blog!)

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Blogger ffelsl said...

Isn't any activity something that can become an addiction?

I'm not saying all addictions are created equal; however the addiction label seems to go on all new products. Also, it almost always applied by the generation who didn't grow up with Radio, I mean TV, no video games, wait PCs etc.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Neils said...

ffelsl, you might check out an article of mine that came out last week on gamasutra. We always test out new technologies - but that might be a good thing. Games are undoubtedly something new, but I'd posit that the collective is within their rights to be leery of items that don't get an unconditional clean bill of health.

Gamers have a lot of reasons to be a bit indignant at all this addiction mumbo-jumbo. You've got the IAD, which Kim Young's ghost writer did a lot with. It's literally shocking that the medical community has clung to her criteria for over a decade.

At the same time, I'd say that gamers have a lot of good reasons to be indignant at... other gamers. We pressure each other to stay on for another heroic MT, another boss, or a few more premades (if we're talking WoW). Then we stigmatize and lambaste the people who quit because they can't keep those pressures in balance. Above anything else, I think that gamers need to take more responsibility and concern over their fellow gamers.

Am I crazy?

2:17 PM  
Blogger Florence Chee said...

Only the best kinda crazy ;)

Yeah, player culture around these technologies is evolving as well. Put bluntly, I think people are so increasingly freaked out over new forms of media because we are able to see in glaringly intimate detail how well, or how badly people deal with them.
New media also acts as a magnifying glass (which mediates), focusing broad and fuzzy into sharp and to the point... but sometimes it burns you when used to excess...? heh...

2:36 PM  
Blogger Neils said...

you get one more chance before I revoke your analogy license.

11:06 PM  
Blogger ffelsl said...

Neils, I'm not sure that anything can get an "unconditional" bill of health anymore.

It's that mere appearance seems to have changed in the collective culture. By calling something an addiction it tends to lend itself to the warm fuzzies of social correctness. Now there can be self-help groups. Special studies are worthy of monetary support. New drugs, therapy or other health professional validation is possible.

This just feels like an attempt to conveniently label something in order to sensationalize some aspect that common culture is not happy with or misunderstands.

I'm not saying that it's not something that can be the subject of an addiction; my quest is what CAN NOT be the subject of an addiction for humans?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Neils said...

You're on to something there, which I think gets to the underlying root that spurs some of our game-love. The human body is optimized for getting ahead in a stone age environment, when it helped that seeking out fat, sex and other traits were linked to our emotional brain and hard-wired into us. There are a lot of things out there that a more digital mind has a hard time balancing. A lot of things you might call addiction.

You're also right in that it's a convenient label. When I'm talking offhandedly with other gamerfriends, we say 'addiction.' even some researchers who are loathe to blurt out the word in public find it convenient when the recorders are off. I more see it as the other way around from being just like other things we might put in that category. Sure, some elements in gaming might qualify to technically be called an addiction, but many more are actually new and unique elements to gaming. Never before have we had these pervasive spaces where an international host of people comes together with so many different backgrounds and assumptions.

In some ways what's keeping us playing isn't addiction at all, but those lead to problems that most gamers don't expect and are never prepared for. And too much of that can certainly build an addiction, no doubt about that. it just takes time, a certain kind of game, and certain personalities (sometimes with certain problems) are going to help that along more than hinder.

So yeah, you can certainly have pop culture escapism (i stole that today), but I put games in their own classification on a bunch of levels.

10:37 PM  

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