The place of the Internet in working life!!
We are in what is known as the “digital age”, where the number of households having access to the internet from home has increased over time, as the internet is useful for studying, working, watching a film or find information and thus, in a way, broaden one’s cultural horizons, even in one’s free time. According to ISTAT, in 2014, the share of these households increased from 60.7% to 64% compared to the previous year. Admittedly, Internet access concerns households with a minor much more, where technology is more present : 87.1% have a PC and 89% have Internet access (ISTAT, 2014).
In recent times, there has been a strong spread of the internet and media around the world. This phenomenon has undoubtedly led to advantages and improvements in the way of communicating, since it has made it possible to overcome the barriers imposed by time and space, to the point of allowing infinite access to sources of information. The other side of the coin is a bad or immoderate use of the Internet and the means of communication, testifying to psychopathological phenomena linked, precisely, to this bad use of the Net.
Recent studies have highlighted the possibility of the emergence of a real psychological addiction, known as IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder), a term coined by the American psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg: he proposed more than ten years, in 1995, to introduce this disorder in the DSM, a proposal which gave rise to numerous studies, until the observation that excessive use of the Net gradually leads to difficulties in the life of the person, mainly relational, in order to remain prisoner of this virtual space (Jamison, 2000).
Addiction and Dependence
Thus, today, we often speak of Internet addiction, to the detriment of social relations and therefore of our development. We give up on ourselves in a way. In psychology, this form of addiction is not exactly identified as a specific disorder, but as a symptom that can be linked to other clinical pictures. We can speak of addiction when the person devotes most of his time and energy to using the object from which he cannot detach himself, in this case the Internet, or in any case a mobile phone, in such a way as to create dysfunctional behaviors in other areas of life, such as personal, relationship and family, school/work, and emotional.
The idea of mobile phones – today smartphones – was indeed constructive, until the day when something happened that made it possible to cross a limit: the threshold of obsession and, therefore, that of addiction, of ever-growing desire. In psychology, we use concepts such as craving, dependence, obsession, addictions, decontrol.
Craving is the subjective experience of hard-to-restrain desire that feeds on itself whenever it is satisfied by the desired object, producing gratification and pleasure. Craving involves the reward circuitry, which is central to pathological addictive disorders and, therefore, to the treatment of these disorders (Kanavagh, Andrade & May, 2004).
The term addiction is used to define the field of pathological dependencies, indicating a situation of lack of freedom, submission, such a deep implication of the subject towards the use of an object that he is unable to limit this activity, a loss control as the addiction worsens. Craving is part of addiction.
Today we talk about many new addictions, like technology addiction. From cell phones. To social networks. On the Internet. Of all that a screen can offer us.
In reality, the debate on whether or not one can develop an addiction to the Net, such as alcohol or a drug, is not yet closed. In fact, many researchers recognize the phenomenon that Internet abuse can lead to negative consequences, but refuse to talk about true addiction, saying that more scientific findings are needed to support this idea and that talking about excessive Internet use as a psychiatric disorder could be clinically misleading (Huang MP and Alessi NE, 1996).
The consequences of this addiction
Brenner (1996) considers that spending a lot of time in front of the computer results in symptoms that do not necessarily lead to the development of an addiction, such as loss of sleep and hunger, and the inability to manage one’s time. Kymberly Young, on the other hand, argues that drug addicts experience consequences that can be severe as a result of Net abuse, while normal users show no interference in their daily lives and view the Net as a resource.
The problems that the author evokes are in the relational and family sphere, since the increase in the number of hours of connection to the Net reduces the number of hours spent with significant people. Consequently, the virtual space takes on more and more importance, until alienation. In work and school spheres, excessive use of the Net leads to distraction from these tasks and also leads to a less regular sleep-wake cycle, which invalidates work and school performance. There’s no shortage of health advice, as long hours spent in front of the computer can lead to posture problems, but also sleep disturbances, meal irregularities, headaches, tired eyes, and more.
The latest version of the DSM (DSM-5) does not include the entry “Internet addiction”, but the only addictive behavior involving the Internet is “gaming disorder”. However, the term internet addiction or internet addiction is a broad term that covers various behaviors and impulse control issues. People who show symptoms of Internet addiction usually also show other forms of addiction.
The feeling of alienation resulting from technology
Our dear technology has accentuated one of its aspects, that of alienation. Beyond its definition, the photographer Babycakes Romero has grasped the idea well with his photo project “Death of conversation”: the protagonists of his shots are concentrated on their mobile phone, discussing, reading, scrolling through the messages offered by the network, and establishing minimal social contacts between them. Mr. Romero explains that he has no problem with the technology. Rather, he thinks that cellphones make certain aspects of our lives easier, but “people are abusing them and becoming more closed off.”
Mr. Romero explains: “Before people started using mobile phones, they were more likely to interact with each other, an activity that is no longer necessary as they are focused on interacting with their mobile devices. Today, we can avoid having a conversation with the person sitting next to us by simply turning on the black screen and looking for something interesting, even if it’s not there, thus avoiding the daunting task to think of something to say to the other person. Paradoxically, mobile phones make communication difficult, while they were born with a completely different intention: finally shortened distances, finally love stories that overcome obstacles, finally someone who is looking for us just to hear our voice or text us uselessly – basically. We then moved on to notifications and the abstinence we feel when the smartphone control window is reduced to its bare minimum.
Today we know how to receive notifications, because it is enough to click on a few social networks, post a few photos and, immediately, “likes” and comments arrive from all over the world, in all kinds of languages, with so many ‘unknown intentions behind them as the face that looked at our photo. And we are happy, the day can go on because we are part of the world, of society, each of us can do something, me, you and the others, we have a life to show everyone who is connected.
In the lagoon of technological alienation, the good news is that there are some warning signs of possible internet addiction. Let’s see them together:
– Isolation from family and friends;
– Losing track of time online;
– Having difficulty performing tasks;
– Feel guilty for using the Internet;
– Feeling of euphoria when connected.
There is more: the Internet certainly has the characteristics of immediacy, ease, but such immoderate use and the negative consequences are also due to other underlying factors: anxiety, depression, stress because the Net is used as a way to try to feel less uncomfortable. According to some researchers, those who develop such an addiction have a basic personality prone to impulsiveness, the search for new experiences and certain aggressive traits (Ko et al., 2010; Park et al., 2012; Ma, 2012).
This is partly the internet’s fault and partly ours.
Finally, I managed to detach myself from this couple of girls who were spending the evening each on their own, you could almost say that each was in their own house, but for real. Each had her own house where she could watch the news, receive messages, phone calls, where she could laugh and smile.
Then came the friend we had been waiting for. He had two beers in his hand and no room for a cell phone. My boyfriend was struggling with a bowl of ice cream and his spoon. I was just happy to chat.