Still Addicted To Calling Things Addictions

from the just-can't-stop dept

Every few months, it seems we see an article talking about the worries of some group of psychologists about how some technology is addictive. It's been going on for years. There have been claims about email addiction, web addiction, online porn addiction, video game addiction, internet addiction, and mobile phones or other gadget addictions. The latest is a bit more specific, talking about how people are addicted to online fantasy games like World of Warcraft. However, once again, they offer no proof, and other studies have found no physical dependency on video games. Part of the problem is that all of these stories seem to mix cause and effect. In almost every case of these "technology" addictions, the more you look at it, it sounds like the person had a more serious mental problem, such as depression or a real addiction, such as to drugs or alcohol -- and that played itself out by having them immerse themselves in the technology. In fact, the article starts out by pointing to one case where that's exactly what doctors said with someone who committed suicide while playing EverQuest (he was depressed) -- and then flip it to say that doctors today are taking the issue of fantasy game addictions more seriously, though they don't say why. What's changed to indicate that it really is these video games that are the problem, rather than depression or loneliness or some other issue that's leading people to seek comfort in these games? It's easy to just blame the game, but if it's not the real root of the problem, focusing in on that as the addiction is only going to lead to more trouble for the individuals later on when they seek some other solution to their real issues.

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  1. identicon
    Rational Thought, 5 Dec 2006 @ 9:23am

    Dependency or Escapism

    Sometimes our lives are so mundane that we look for an excape into an alternate reality. I believe we, men, are wired to thrive on adrenaline. Our ancestors way back had to hunt for food and fight for survival. Over the centuries our lives have become more placid and mundane. So now we invent and participate in real life activities that are brutal or extremely risky to activate the adrenaline in our system. Heck we still use words like "hunt", "kill", "target", "blood and guts" in business and sports on a daily basis. Playing online fantasy games is one of those activites that gives us the chance to do something dangerous or on the edge, albeit without the physical repercussions (strained thumbs dont count). While it does not involve physical activity, there is enough realism with the level of graphics today that if we shut out real life sensory input, our brain replaces those with what the games dish out. I have personally played Delta Force, Recon and other first person adventure games to a level that eight hours later I "wake up" and realize that I have not eaten or taken a break because the games required so much focus, attention and strategy. Was I addicted? I believe I was able to get so invoved because on that day, nothing else was "exciting" enough to make me want to do it instead of playing with my "unit." Those people who do this day in and day out have not, IMHO, connected with the real world to a level where their sensory needs are being fulfilled. The online world judges you based on your survival skills, not looks or personality...exactly how the world judged you back when man roamed the planet in animal skins with a crude wooden club.

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