Internet Addiction Gaining Steam
> 12/1/2005 9:55:35 AM

Today's Fashion & Style section of the New York Times has an article about internet addiction.  In it writer Sarah Kershaw describes this growing problem, and looks at some of the efforts being made to stop it.  All things considered, it's a good read, and I would certainly recommend it as an eye-opener about a problem that is still flying under most radars.

What surprised me a bit was the reaction of Professor Sara Kiesler, who teaches computer science and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon.  Kershaw writes:

She said calling it an addiction "demeans really serious illnesses,which are things like addiction to gambling, where you steal yourfamily's money to pay for your gambling debts, drug addictions,cigarette addictions." She added, "These are physiological addictions."

I'm not sure when it became okay to use the perceived effects or impacts of an illness or an addiction as a means for declaring said illness not worthy of "serious" consideration.  Should we just give up on trying to cure the common cold because the very notion that we need to fight it "demeans" the search for an HIV vaccine. 

Plus, I'm sure that Prof. Kiesler, between teaching classes, grading papers and meeting with students has plenty of time to provide counseling and mental health services, and therefore, has an unshakable base of experience from which she can hurl barbs and undermine the suffering of those who are addicted to the web.

Obviously I'm being overly harsh here, but I feel that my point is a fair one.  People can be addicted to virtually anything.  Some addictions, like drugs or gambling, can prove to be financially ruinous.  Others like video games or sex can have more social implications.  An internet addiction might not ruin your life, but it can be stressful and create anxiety issues, which can precipitate other problems. 

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