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Are You A Net Addict? It's A Serious Affliction.


A little while ago I made a post about how I felt I was "Getting Absorbed Into The Net." Then today I read an article on nytimes.com about how Korea takes "web obsession" seriously to the point that there is a boot camp to cure it.

I couldn't believe it. Really? There are people who have lost their lives to the net? Even if that were true, big deal, right? Then I remembered stories about people sucked into MMORPGs. Apparently (and this probably has happened more than once) a young guy killed himself after losing his character in the game. It was like the game was his whole life, and he couldn't imagine going on living after it was over.

So this is serious.

I'm a fan of the "Ghost In The Shell" anime. I'm more familiar with the show than the films. The setting is a futuristic world in which the net has become a true virtual reality, brain-to-net interfacing has been achieved, and prosthetic bodies are in apparent widespread use. If you had such a body, you'd look and act like any normal person, but you could also multitask and surf the net in your mind — even while driving. I believe artificial intelligence exists in the show as well.

In one episode, it was explained and depicted how many youngsters can become so absorbed into the net that they need professional treatment. It's like they withdraw almost completely from the real world. One of the solutions put into use was to allow the kids to surf the net, but only so they could write security programs. The programs the wrote, I believe, were highly effective.

It was shocking to read how South Korea, already mega-networked, has been encountering similar problems in the real world. One kid at the boot camp said how he felt that 17 hours a day online was no big deal. It became such an issue that he and others would skip school, not to surf, but to sleep, as they'd been up all night online. Apparently some people have even died from staying online playing games for days at a time. It's that crazy.

I personally don't think I have a problem with the net, but you never know. They say first your tolerance levels rise for sitting at the computer for extended periods. (Check.) After that you surf more and more, and if anything comes between you and your computer, you can become quite agitated. Thankfully I'm not there yet, nor do I plan to be.

I had just assumed that as the internet comes to play a bigger role in all of our lives, we'd naturally use it more often. But not nonstop. That same kid at the boot camp found that real-life success in physical endeavors was much more fun than playing games online. He said his new perspective might even cause him to reduce his time online from 17 hours a day to just 5. Yes, it sounds ironic, but at the same time 5 hours a day online is probably normal for a lot of people.

What a wild world we live in.

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