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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Does Internet Addiction Exist?





You've probably seen the term "Internet Addiction" a couple of times in traditional media. They've told you the Internet is to blame for the increased divorce rate, they've blamed exam failures on Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger. They've blamed the internet for Riots. They've refused to face the real problems. Hey, let's just blame it on the internet. It's not a real person after all.


You'll have done the "Are You Addicted to the Internet?" Quiz a couple of times. If you're reading this there's a very high probability that you think you're addicted to the internet.

There's no such thing as Internet Addiction. The Internet is a tool and people use it for whatever they feel like using it for. You won't say a driver is addicted to driving? You won't call a salesman a selling addict. You won't call a radio personality addicted to radio. So why do Internet users get plagued?

A lot of times people tell me I'm addicted to the Internet. They don't even know what it is I'm doing. They just assume because I'm online most of the time, I'm therefore addicted to it. I dont think you'll call anyone in the haulage business addicted to their phones. It's a tool they have to use. They have to know where their drivers are and how the goods are being delivered.

Last year, I had a small spat with my dad on this internet addiction thing. We were at this teenagers conference and we were asked to write down a couple of things we would like to change in our lives and my dad was insisting "Internet addiction. Internet addiction" and I was honestly pissed at him that day. Why should I write that I'm addicted to something I'm using. It's not like I like to see the "connected to the internet" icon on my computer. No, I'm actually using this service. This "addiction" helped us find fuel during the scarcity o.

So I'm going to go all internet-evangelist in this post like I did to my dad. In the next decade, there'll be very little difference between Offline and Online. You'll walk into a store and buy a shoe via NFC on your smartphone. Your bank account will be instantly debited via the internet. Your kids need a few books for school? You'll buy them via the Kindle store and they'll get it wherever they are on their Kindle Fire. Via the Internet.

You can already see some of these things happening. I'm currently taking classes on Codecademy and Udacity. Now, these services are online and you can track your progress in real time. I tried the offline mode while I was doing P2P classes but that didnt work. I downloaded videos[so I could watch them offline] from Udacity. I've realised it's just a waste of time. I cant run a lot of stuff like I can when I'm online.

My uncle thinks I have a problem cos I don't watch TV or read the newspaper or pay attention to OGBC while I'm in his car in the morning and I've told him several times. I dont need to switch on a 32-inch screen because I want to watch the discovery documentary on Steve Jobs. I got it the night it premiered via torrents[I apologise for this, but I just couldnt wait]. Fellow Nigerians watched it a week later.

Online Syncing

Last week, I was covering G|Nigeria. On the first day @MrBankole's laptop battery was failing him so he brought another laptop the next day. The problem: He needed all his Chrome extensions for him to live-tweet the event. A few minutes later, he had connected to the Wi-Fi and signed into Chrome with his gmail account. KABLAM. All his extensions were in and Tweetdeck was making that weird, robotic sound.

This is how we're going to be living in a bit. I usually pick people's gadgets wherever I go and I recently noticed that I dont use their apps that I dont use. I tend to login to services I use just to get the feel of the app on that OS. Everything is moving to the cloud now. Your phone gets crushed by a car and the only thing you've got to worry about is the money for another one. Everything important is stored in the cloud. Your apps, your books, your contacts, all backed up. All you have to do is get a new phone and sign in.

Are we addicted to communication or the feeling of being connected?

How come no one says "Hey! Kids today have a way of keeping up with their friends 15,000 miles away. We should encourage that". I've currently got at least 80% of my friends outside Lagos. Now, when we meetup[this happens like Once a year and it sucks], there's now "Hi, How are you? What school are you at now?" All that small talk is a waste of time. We continue our discussion from where we left off online. I already know what party they've attended or books they've read recently or movies they've watched. In fact before we watch movies, Bolaji usually checks up the schedule online, I check the ratings then we pick a movie when we meet. Sometimes I check the ratings on my phone when we get to the cinemas.

The Internet is a bloody useful tool. Stick to it.

If you're going to call me addicted to the internet, then surely commercial drivers are addicted to driving.

Image: Again, Someecards
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