Virtual Heroin

How the internet has hooked us into a harmful addiction.

We used to think of technology as a tool, a beacon in the light, revealing truth to its wielders. Suddenly, we went from sending letters, checking out books, and traveling distances.
To texting in an instant, googling, and skyping with those distant contacts. However, as we progress with this technology, we’re learning that the internet is very much so a double edged blade.
If we aren’t careful, it can backfire on us furiously, slashing away our sanity and reducing us into empty shells of human beings. This is the epidemic, of virtual heroin.

Addiction

Often times, we hear our grandparents describe the newer generation’s relationship with phones, as “addictive”. Usually, we just shrug off the occasional ridicule pushed our way, and pick up where we left off. However, maybe our elders have a point.

Maybe, whether it’s checking our snap chats, or just finding some fun memes on Instagram, there really is an interdependent relationship hiding somewhere in our hearts.

And it turns out, internet addiction is as real as any other, the only differing factor is the choice of drug. According to the Center for Internet Addiction, the definition for internet addiction is the following.

“Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living…”

They also go on to explain that common symptoms include:

  • Compulsive internet usage.
  • A preoccupation with being online.
  • Lying or hiding the extent or nature of your online behavior.
  • An inability to control or curb your online behavior.
  • If your Internet use pattern interferes with your life in any way shape or form.

In many ways, most kids in my school fit into one or more of those categories. In my anecdotal experience, which isn’t statistically relevant, many peers of mine in school are consistently and urgently checking their phone.

They are constantly preoccupied with their phone, causing them to accomplish substantially less work. They attempt to hide their preoccupation under their desk, and only unveil it when their teacher isn’t looking their direction.

Some uncontrollably out of habit check their devices, causing their grades, focus on classwork, along with actual face to face social activity to suffer as a response.

So let’s run through this once more, and see if my classmates behavior reflects symptoms of addiction.

  1. Do students compulsively check their device? Yes
  2. Are students preoccupied with that device? Yes
  3. Do they attempt to hide the extent to which they use their device? Yes
  4. Do they have self control? Sometimes
  5. Does it interfere with their lives? Yes

In conclusion, ⅘ of the symptoms of internet addiction are photocopies of my classmates’ behavior. This should be an eye opener, and help us realize how big of a problem this is for my generation, and future ones to come. If we don’t do something about this soon, America’s future will be lost to a plague of virtual heroin addicts.


Laziness

As we approach an age where we’re all dependent on technology, hard working people will be needed to work this technology. In other words, we need engineers!

From software engineers, to aerospace engineers, we need them all if we expect to advance as a society. Civil engineers to fix our grade D+ infrastructure. Environmental engineers to help us avoid polluting this planet, list goes on and on.

The issue is, all of these fields require work, hard work at that. If we’re all preoccupied, and addicted to technology, we can’t efficiently maintain and innovate new inventions.

To further explain this, the reader must understand that the average American spends far too much time with technology. In fact, according to the New York Times.

“On average, American adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day.”

This can all be summed up to laziness. It is this laziness that’s causing America to fall behind in STEM, and fueling our cultural decay. On the contrary, imagine if we cut that technology time out.

What if instead of vegging out with our jaws dropped, being entertained with absolute garbage for hours on end. What if we invested our time into the real world!

Think about it, as the individual invests into a fake world of reality TV, videogames, and bologna social media behavior. The real world progresses without said individual, leaving them isolated and unfulfilled.

So instead of watching 5 hours of TV a day, let’s work towards improving our society. Not just through the needed work mentioned above, let us spend time together and with our families, spend time working on various hobbies that can bring more meaning to our lives.

Five hours a day, is 1,825 hours in a year. Which is about 2 & ½ months out of the year. If that time was spent on something such as piano, by the end of the year, you’d be an expert.


Accepted Behavior

The reason why this is so under discussed, is because it’s culturally accepted. According to Pew Research, 68% of Americans own smartphones.

“Today, 68% of U.S. adults have a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults, according to newly released survey data from the Pew Research Center.”

This is just to show, how popular this technology is, and how susceptible we’re to virtual heroin. The reason why we haven’t seen this as a huge problem up until now, is because all of the “druggies” are currently using, so they’re happy.

But if you were to try and take that away, you’d see a much different behavior. This abnormal human behavior caused by technology has also become accepted culturally, because so many people are taking part in it, so it seems normal.

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