It's easy to amass anecdotal evidence of rising internet addiction. The marathon Asian gamers who prefer to starve rather than leave their terminal; the couples at restaurants, ignoring each other as they engage with their iPhones; the compulsive sharers on social networks who leave no private experience unmediated and recapitulated online; the restless oscillation between email accounts and Twitter and RSS readers looking for a personalized jolt of novelty; the sheer volume of content on YouTube -- where did it come from and who is watching it? -- these all suggest the dissolution of boundaries that many would have thought impervious even five years ago. The lines that once separated, say, public from indiscreet, consumers from connoisseurs, sharing from stealing, and enthusiasm from compulsion, have been progressively blurred. TK here.
The relentless encroachment of the internet into our everyday lives can feel out of our control. Suddenly, we palpably risk social exclusion if we can't keep up, if we lack online presence. The vaunted network effects that the Web harnesses begin to come at the expense of our autonomy. We have to maintain a Facebook page. We have to shop through Amazon.com. We have to Google ourselves to check up on our reputation. We must have a smart phone. We yearn for unlimited data plans.
But does that TKTKTK constitute addiction? Recently Paul Graham, an early Web pioneer, argued that technological innovation inherently focuses on enhancing the addictive properties of any given good. Because of this, "increasing numbers of things we like will be transformed into things we like too much."
Built into this is the assumption that quantity is the only quality.
Says we'll need social antibodies, but digital natives already seem immune to the internet issue--