A friend asked me some thoughts on Internet Addiction - this was what I wrote:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized when the same question continues to "pop into your head." For example: "Did I leave the door unlocked?" "I'd better check, then:" "Yes." Then a minute later, "Did I leave the door unlocked? Did I check it right?" The question continues to return again and again. The question could be things like, "Is it clean enough?" "Is the oven on?" - it becomes an issue when the concern leaves rationality and becomes an obsession.
OCD is basically wired in nearly everyone - but people seem to respond to different stimulus though there are some common ones. For many people the OCD trigger will never start, but it seems that when some primal security is challenged at some point, people become more susceptible to a particular stimulus.
Usually the stimulus has to do with something instinctual to us - like safety (locks, ovens) or health (cleanliness).
One instinctual trait in humans is our desire to be part of the pack. The rise of the internet allows for this desire to be part of the pack to be satisfied quickly - but it also creates the perfect OCD stimulus by it's accessibility and ever-changing flow of information.
Constantly checking status "What's changed?" "What's new?" as well as "People need to know."
The internet connectivity between people is much like birds chirping constantly mostly just to let the other birds know their status and location. It's wired in us genetically.
The games always referred to for long lasting addictions - all of them have internet components - EverQuest, World of Warcraft, Diablo II - there are many others, but again there is the human element which is affecting the on-going play - and very much like a facebook status list - this acts as an OCD trigger. Social Networking sites provide the same question stimulus - "What's changed?"
So the next time you find yourself checking and posting "obsessively" your facebook or twitter status... take a moment to monitor your status. If the action isn't distracting you from something else or stopping your from doing something else, maybe it's not a problem. If you find yourself justifying it's importance even-though you should really be doing homework or taxes or creating projects - that's where your fun habit has maybe turned into an obsession.
The cure for OCD is to simply not allow the "question" to overrule the "answer." "What's going on with everyone or the world?" needs to be answered, "I'll find out later." The more you can replace "I'd better check" with "I'll find out later." The easier it is to re-wire your brain back to a normal pattern.
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