Admit it, you spend too much time on the internet. Chances are the first thing you did this morning was check Facebook. On the other hand, you can’t help it when the Internet has taken over your career, your social life, even your morning commute. But surprise, surprise! Too much internet is psychologically proven to be bad for you. You may not know it yet but there’s a chance you could be suffering from internet addiction or what most psychologists call Compulsive Internet Use (CIU).
Dr. Regienald A. Afroilan, MD, DPBP, a psychiatrist of National Center for Mental Health, describes CIU as “a compulsive, pleasure-seeking behavior wherein one experiences pleasurable moments due to constant exposure to particular websites to the point that he fails to perform his daily duties to himself, others and his environment.”
For many of us, the internet has become a source of solace. But in all honesty, though, is it possible to survive without the internet? Of course. In fact, we’ll walk you through the most likely scenarios of living a life sans the internet.
Out of habit, you catch yourself reaching for your phone every two minutes. You keep refreshing your newsfeed wondering why it’s so unresponsive until you remember you’re on a digital hiatus. You let out a hollow laugh and convince yourself that everything’s fine. Except that it’s not. You’re starting to feel like a shabu addict going through withdrawal. And you’re probably bracing yourself for hallucinations and delusions but good for you, there will be none.
“Internet addiction is a compulsion that has something to do with your personality and behavior, and not necessarily your brain. Unlike substance abuse which is primarily caused by excessive dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain that when taken in massive quantities will make you experience the so-called “high”). In the case of internet addiction, you are exposed to a kind of pleasure that can excite you but which you eventually learn to tolerate,” Dr. Afroilan says.
And then just like that, you explode. You’re torn between smashing your worthless laptop and flushing your phone down the toilet. You start cursing everyone from Mark Zuckerberg down to your neighbor for having a password protected Wi-Fi. How are you going to check your email? What if your crush finally answers that “Hey, how you doin’?” you sent a year ago? How are you going to stream your favorite show? How can life be this cruel?
In July 2011, Intersperience, a British consumer research firm, did a study on people’s attitude towards Internet use entitled “Digital Selves.” They surveyed over 1,000 Brits with some being denied online access for 24 hours. They found out that 53 percent of Brits feel upset when deprived of Internet connection whereas 40 percent feel lonely.
“Online and digital technology is increasingly pervasive, influencing our friendships, the way we communicate, the fabric of our family life, our work lives, our buying habits and our dealings with organizations,” Paul Hudson, CEO of Intersperience, told the Daily Telegraph
You offer a string of promises wrapped in guilt and remorse. You promise to drop all your bad internet habits and be a better netizen. No more streaming porn, subtweeting your ex, or sharing fake news. You surprise yourself with the sheer amount of unspeakable things you consider doing in exchange for even just an hour on Reddit.
In 2008, tech website CIO.com made a list of the craziest things people did to get their internet fix. The items on the list ranged from holding one’s laptop out a window to connect to next door’s Wi-Fi to sitting outside an airport for four hours just to stay online.
And there are those extreme cases like how in 2014, 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson was banned from owning a mobile phone after being accused of online addiction by her mother. This triggered Wilson to post photos of her own bleeding arms on self-harm websites. The next day, she jumped in front of a speeding train.
You refuse to eat, sleep, and interact with anyone except maybe your dog. You spend countless hours daydreaming about the games you could be playing, shows you’re missing, all the Tinder matches you’ll never get to stalk, not to mention your neglected Instagram feed. The rest of the world’s having a party and you’re not invited.
Here’s the sad truth: “All of us probably suffer from a minor depression called “Dysthymia,” Dr. Afroilan says. “It’s what we see when we deprive someone of their pleasure seeking behavior is just the complications of depression. When you’re depressed you have to seek something that will make you happy. There’s something lacking in us so we have to fill it with happy principles and thoughts.” But if you continue to “deprive someone of these experiences, it will trigger a morbid depression called Major Depressive Disorder until you start having suicidal thoughts,” he adds.
Disconnect to connect
Now that you’ve got no choice but to come terms with your miserable, disconnected existence you actually feel a bit relieved. People know you as the guy who deactivated his social media accounts because he was too hipster. You’re enlightened. You’re basically a better person than everyone else because you aren’t limited by your need to stay connected online because you’ve found a truer, deeper connection with the world... or at least that’s what your Facebook fan-made page says.
“With internet addiction, the reality we belong to is slowly being replaced by our online reality, our online avatars," Dr. Afroilan says. "That’s why most people are into games and social media. They get to create their own avatars that can play their real-life dreams. Disconnecting from the internet can help you focus on yourself and your reality, pushing you to try other meaningful activities and develop deeper, personal connections with others.”
This feature originally appeared in the February 2018 issue, which is still available in supermarkets, convenience stores, newsstands, and bookstores nationwide! You can score digital copies through the FHM app on Apple App Store (http://bit.ly/fhmphapple) and on Google Play (http://bit.ly/FhmPHandroid), Buqo, and the Summit Media Newsstand (http://bit.ly/fhmmagph)!
Illustration Juno Abreu