Oct 152006
Authors: Megan Keller The North Wind Northern Michigan U.

(U-WIRE) MARQUETTE, Mich. – I have a confession to make. It’s not particularly salacious, or even that immoral, but embarrassing all the same.

I have an eBay addiction.

No, I don’t buy cool stuff like “autumn leaves” (“All hand picked and specially selected for their vibrant color”) or an autographed Walter Payton jersey (both real eBay auctions).

Mainly, I use eBay for buying and selling my textbooks, with the occasional random garment thrown in. Usually, I just find a shirt or skirt I like, so I bid on it. I generally stop there, but sometimes it snowballs. This usually happens after I receive an overage check. A few hours later, I’ve bid on four more items, and have probably broke out in a sweat, hitting the “refresh” button repeatedly to make sure I’m still the highest bidder up to the last few seconds. However, I don’t need it to feel “normal,” which is how the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery describes an addiction, but many people do.

However, eBay addictions are just one facet of our Internet dependency.

I was surprised to find the results I did when I searched “Internet addiction.” Books have been written about the subject and Web sites have been created (Is it possible to be addicted to creating self-help Web sites?). One site, the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, offers a quiz to determine a user’s level of addiction.

A few psychiatrists, notably Dr. Ivan Goldberg and Kimberly Young, Psy. D., are currently trying to get Internet Dependency Disorder listed on the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders.

Critics of the push to add Internet Dependency Disorder to the list say the Internet is a social environment, and therefore cannot be an addiction. Unlike pathological gambling or excessive drinking, which are antisocial behaviors without redeeming values, the Internet allows many people to connect and share with each other. It’s easy to use the Internet on a pretense of research, and then spend the next three hours chatting with friends, the research undone and no inkling that this behavior is ultimately detrimental.

Like all things, there is a point where it becomes too much. Spending too much time on the Internet means less time you actually interact with the world. It’s time you could be sleeping, at class, at work or talking face-to-face with people. If anything, it’ll be less strain on your eyes. Spending too much time on the Internet can negatively influence your grades, social life and job performance. Not to mention sleep deprivation.

If it were an actual disorder, probably nearly every American shows a symptom or two, especially NMU students, with laptops at our every whim. We spend hours chatting on AIM or looking at profiles on Facebook. When we have to study, do we go to the library? No, we research topics on the Internet. It’s just easier.

The problem with our frequent laptop use is that there is no single pattern that defines Internet addiction. Many documents for the government as well as NMU are only available online. As the usage of the Internet increases, forcing many people to subscribe, so will our level of time we spend on the Internet. How we define Internet addiction will always be changing.

As it is, the Internet is slowly taking over our lives. Almost everything is available online now, including the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery (I guess they expect people to stay on the Internet for advice, even after realizing they have a problem).

Even groceries can be bought online now, eliminating the hour spent at the local grocer. I refuse to believe we’ve become so addicted to our computer screens we can’t even take a break for an hour to go buy food. Sites like eBay only mask and exploit the problem.

So, I’m going cold turkey off eBay for awhile, or so I’d like to think. I’ll probably find something else I sorely need tomorrow. But for now, I’m going to go get some fresh air.

Maybe I’ll go to the grocery store.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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