Wednesday, February 29, 2012

COLUMN: Cyber slaves

Joanna Borns
University Wire
(Indiana Daily Student) (U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- I have some bad news. I've been enslaved by an evil monster.

This monster has the power to collect information from every corner of the globe, download pornography at an astonishing speed and aid in many convenient forms of communication.

Devil, thy name is Internet.

Five minutes of checking e-mail easily turns into hours of surfing for news, bidding on eBay, sending instant messages and Facebook-ing (now a verb).

What would happen if they took the Internet away? Quite bluntly, we would freak out. A lack of Internet can cause feelings of panic, solitude and utter helplessness.

Last summer I lived in New York City for an internship. I stayed at the dorms of New York University. I just assumed they'd provide me with an Ethernet cable, but I was tragically incorrect.

In a city where, according to Huey Lewis & the News, you can do "half a million things all at a quarter to three," the first thing I did was search for an Ethernet cable. I didn't know where I was going. Normally the Web would've given me directions. I craved Internet access so desperately that I wandered the streets of the Lower East Side until I stumbled upon a place to buy a cable.

I couldn't function as a human being until I was able to get online. There's a word for that: pathetic.

The need to be connected has astonishing power over our lives. Admit it. We, as a society, love the Internet more than puppies and chocolate combined.

I have a vision of the future. Everyone will be contained inside individual pods without contact with other human beings. Even more exciting, each pod will be equipped with wireless Internet access. Hooray! You can look up the coordinates of your friends' pods using Google Earth.

The Internet gives us immense freedom to find information and communicate with others. But the freedom takes on the form of shackles when we're paralyzed without it. Sure, most of us depend on the perks of the Web for our jobs or schoolwork, but not even lions pacing in cages at the zoo spend hours staring at a screen.

The easier it is to communicate with the world from your desk, the less likely you are to get up. I know I'm not the only person guilty of sending instant messages to a person within earshot. As soon as you get home, do you head straight for the computer?

Repeat after me: Hello, my name is (insert name here), and I'm an Internet-a-holic.

Some health professionals say that Internet addiction is a real medical problem.

According to The New York Times, specialists in the area estimate that 6 to 10 percent of the 189 million Internet users in the United States "have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction."

Regardless of whether or not being online too much deserves to be defined as a real addiction, we need to acknowledge how much being hooked up controls our lives.

At the very least, avoid using the Internet as a tool for wasting time.

If you start to forget what daylight is, it's best to crawl out of your pod while you still can.

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(C) 2006 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE

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