It’s not news that the real world isn’t the only world out there anymore. The virtual universe of the Internet, social media and smartphones is growing, and growing fast. And while these outlets used to beckon with a blessed relief from reality, it now seems that the tables need turning.
In a Newsweek article earlier this month, what we’ve vaguely feared for a while has been confirmed true: The Internet is, in fact, making us crazy. With more and more people finding themselves physically incapable of unplugging, or, in the case of Jason Russell of Kony 2012 fame, suffering mental collapses from Internet overuse, the medical world is taking note. For the first time, next year’s edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will include Internet Addiction Disorder in its ranks (as part of an appendix for items requiring further study, but still).
It’s pretty scary stuff. Your first iPhone was barely a year old when Barack Obama won his first presidential election; now, the Apple product might as well be an official fifth limb—or, for that matter, a significant other. Recent studies have shown that receiving a text or a Facebook notification sparks brain activity on par with that of holding hands with the person you love. And if falling in love with a piece of plastic isn’t confirmation of insanity, I don’t know what is.
Even in the face of all this research implying that we may have engineered our own psychological demise, it seems increasingly difficult to get away from our technological poison. Most of our media intake now happens online, which, though beneficial from an environmental standpoint, has not done wonders for our attention spans. At work, people spend entire days in front of computer screens or on their phones. For the first generation of iPhone babies, growing up now, the statistics are even more ominous.
But, the real world is still out there, and though it may feel slow and prehistoric, it’s filled with amazing things that we can’t see or hear for the whirr of technology. So even if it seems impossible, slow yourself down a bit. Your sanity will thank you.