Afternoon Inquisition 9.7


Are you addicted to the internet?


Here’s a test to find out. I mean, the comments on this blog have been off the scale lately. Do any of us have a life? Is it OK to check email and blogs just once a day? What about once or twice a week? I’m thinking I want to back waaaay off on my internet usage. I have no idea if I can possibly do this, but how else can I tell if I have an addiction? Is there even any such thing as internet addiction?

I actually enjoyed being online less while I was in Europe (both this and last summer)… but once I get home the old habits seem to come back to life very quickly.


P.S. Sorry I didn’t have a Monster Sunday post this morning. I am not sure I can post these every weekend, but if ideas pop into my head, I’ll try to put one up from time to time because they are fun.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. This is kind of a funny question. I mean, I look forward to seeing my friends every day but no one would ask me if I have an addiction to my friends. So when I post on an online community to talk to my “friends”, it’s odd to me to consider that an addiction. That being said, I’m sure there’s lots of people whose personality lets them take things to excess, internet included.

    Anyway, to answer the question: I don’t think I’m addicted to the internet. I am on it all the time, but that’s the world we live in. When I go away for vacation or whatever, it’s not like I get the shakes — “get me to a wi-fi!” :)

  2. While I don’t think I’m so addicted to the web, it has become like my staple-thing-to-do. As in, whenever I’m bored, Internet is where I seek things to do. Imagine how many times I refresh Google Reader just to check for new stuff.

  3. I do get the shakes — “get me to a wi-fi!” But here’s my score from the test, so maybe it’s not as bad as I think!

    50: You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

  4. I don’t know about that test. The first ten or so questions didn’t really apply. I never have a time limit intention; I don’t have a partner; the test doesn’t define “relationship”; the test provides an “always” answer but not a “never” answer — unless “does not apply” is meant to be “never” but that would be inaccurate and flawed. And so on.

    Anyway, my result was 22. So I guess I’m safe. For now.

    /me looks around for shadows hiding in dusty corners pretending to be innocent dust bunnies

  5. My internet usage spikes out of boredom and i will obsessively check email and blogs and what not, but if you keep me busy, I usually forget the internet exists. I am definitely ok leaving its warm, electronic folds to go camping or some such for weeks at a time.

  6. I’m sorry that test was way too long and I had to check my email and bloglines told me there were 30 new posts, and oh! my new friend in new zealand tweets he’s making ceviche for dinner and needs a recipe!

  7. @LOLkate:

    …and i will obsessively check email and blogs and what not,…

    I think this is a more accurate representation of what goes on in what has been termed “internet addiction.” It’s more of an obsession or possibly a compulsion than an actual addiction. This question is similar to something I read about porn addiction and whether that is really an addiction or not…

  8. No. I’m not addicted. The internet is what I do when I am bored.. If I have something else to do I do it. But it is a great way to fill time. I was on vacation in August and didn’t use a computer one in 8 days and didn’t miss it.

  9. I think there is just a lasting stigma about this sort of thing in many societies. Telling people who use computers a lot to ‘get a life’ has been a common practice for the last decade, so I think people just get more edgy than they should worrying about using the internet too much.

    That being said, it’s important to balance everything, and if it comes to the point that you are neglecting your family/friends/whatever then maybe that’s going too far. And biological considerations, like the obvious problems with being sedentary for long periods of time, are always out there.

    Personally, I use the internet for news, research, and entertainment. I hardly would call it ‘an addiction’ to want to know what’s going on in the world while I’m on vacation or camping or whathaveyou.

  10. I still say that I am not addicted to the internet but I would say that I have a strong partiallity toward the skepchick website. I think I spend at leat 40% of my internet time on this site. I adore the posts and the comment thread conversations. It’s almost as much fun as the long drunking bullshit session in college. But without the sex at the end. That’s something that needs to be added in.

  11. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?

    Come on, seriously?

    Like instead imagining myself naked and making out with Gabrielbrawley on a beach in the South of France, getting tipsy on Champagne under the midday sun while eating cheese and chocolate, I’m imagining myself checking my Google Reader?


  12. I think it depends not so much on how much time you spend online, but what you’re doing while you’re there. And if you’re applying your work online to something in your life offline. If you’re surfing aimlessly, starting flame wars, or doing nothing but downloading porn, then, yeah, you should probably go do something else. But if you’re actively learning, creating, and communicating, and using the web as a platform to advance your life, I don’t see it as a problem.

  13. Well recently it would look that way, but I’ve been sick, I don’t have TV to watch, and while my college has a ton of fun activities I’m not feeling up to going to them. Also I spend a lot of time IMing with my Mom and my Girlfriend. But the quiz says I’m safe at 36.

  14. Ummm…. I thought the internet was just something you did to kill time while waiting for new porn to be posted…. You mean there’s more to it than that??

  15. I’ve managed to keep away most of the daylight hours the past week or so. And it looks like I missed an exciting week. And I’m partly expecting to miss much of this week too. It varies, depending on the week. So generally I’d say no, not really addicted; just spend more time online when there’s nothing else going on in meatspace.

    Although I have left places (one forum in particular) before when I found that I was spending an inordinate amount of time there.

  16. I’m with LOLKate – I spend more time online when I don’t have much to do. I’m an apparently average 36.

    Isn’t it funny, though, that they address internet addiction…through a website? It’s like holding AA meetings in a bar.

    (I wonder what their forums are like…)

  17. Internet addiction?
    No way man, not me…not even close.
    I have a real life, I really do!
    The fact that I can type 60 words a minute one handed is completely irrelevant.
    My other hand is busy feeding my caffiene and nicotine addictions.
    The box of kleenex next to my PC?
    Hey, I have allergies man!

    OK fine, I need therapy…

  18. THis is ironic. I have this comic on my office door as a direct result of this blog. :-)

    The first blog I started reading was this one, and it was the first I really commented on. Someone at my first Skeptics in the Pub told me about the comment after I told them how I have to be careful getting to wrapped up in commenting. I related how I wasted 2 hours of my time arguing with someone tho wasn’t listening, getting insulting and generally being very smug. After that, I decided not to let myself get pulled in to some one else’s “crazy”.

    Anyway, the comic really reminded me of that experience of being compelled to argue with someone even when it was fruitless. Another irony was that it was another libertarian post (the Penn & Education one right after TAM 6). Those libertarian themed threads are explosive! :-)

  19. @Elyse: Like instead imagining myself naked and making out with Gabrielbrawley on a beach in the South of France, getting tipsy on Champagne under the midday sun while eating cheese and chocolate, I’m imagining myself checking my Google Reader?

    Well I didn’t have soothing thoughts about the internet before . . . . ;-)

  20. @taypro:
    ouch, that seems really depressing, and this coming from a 27 year old with no life still living with his parents (for a little while longer anyway).

  21. hi taypro,
    After I read your post, I forgot the stupid comment I was going to make. I haven’t been around here long enough to get to know all the commenters, so I could have missed an inside joke or something in the comment stream. If so, I’m a doof. Sorry. If your comment is serious, I hope you will find somebody you can talk to. Take care.

  22. yes, yes. i was in fact making sarcastic commentary concerning the idea of “internet addiction”. no need to worry. all of my drinking and most of my twittering is done healthy moderation. i appreciate all concerns.

  23. I’m sitting at a not-all-that-healthy 54. Wonder how they took the 2 I answered as ‘not applicable’ into account? if I was at school/uni or had a girlfriend I’d probably have a higher score.

    Thing is though, I gave my TV away almost a year ago and havent replaced it cos I hate all the absolute rubbish they have on and I cant really justify buying cable or satellite just for the discovery and nature channels really.

    So despite my bad score, I think I’ve got one up on most people since I spend my evenings reading about stuff intelligent people are up to instead of staring mindlessly at the airheads on Big Brother.

    Least thats what my addiction is telling me :)

  24. Elyse,

    Like instead imagining myself naked and making out with Gabrielbrawley on a beach in the South of France, getting tipsy on Champagne under the midday sun while eating cheese and chocolate, I’m imagining myself checking my Google Reader?

    Wow, I am honestly flattered. And you don’t even know what I look like. Thank you so much.

  25. @taypro:

    Oh phew … when I read the initial comment I laughed because “twitter until the pain subsides” hit my funny bone. Then I got thinking, “Oh crap, what if she was serious?” but not until I read the rather more sensitive comments afterwards. Glad you were joking or I’d have felt like a total schmuck. :P

  26. I agree with those who are pointing out that the internet isn’t something I go *do* as a distinct thing apart from everything else I do. I’m just in front of computers about 12 hours a day. I work with them and use them for entertainment, and “on-line” vs. not on-line is a distinction without a difference.

    My mother bugged me until I finally got a skype account, so you could say that I’m not on-line enough to maintain my family relationships.

    Hah! Take that you “everything’s an addiction” crowd!

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