Feeds

10% of US net users 'addicted, needing therapy'

Other 90% too burned-out to respond

High performance access to file storage

The American obsession with therapy may almost be considered as a neurosis in its own right. But quacks see promising material in a growing number of internet addicts.

"6 percent to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in this country have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, and they are rushing to treat it," reports the New York Times.

Staff at an Illinois hospital said they see similar signs of withdrawal in net addicts patients as in alcoholics or drug addicts, including "profuse sweating, severe anxiety and paranoid symptoms".

But is it so harmful?

Something very strange is happening, to be sure. Consider the reaction around the web to a column in the Los Angeles Times this week by linguistics professor Naomi Baron. She expresses concern that the shallow nature of reading on the web diminished her students ability to reason.

She's isn't the first to observe this. Academic researchers have found that net use creates a "problem solving deficit disorder" amongst children, and cognitive scientists have discovered the bombardment of email depletes IQ "faster than marijuana".

Baron wrote,

"If we approach the written word primarily through search-and-seizure rather than sustained encounter-and-contemplation, we risk losing a critical element of what it means to be an educated, literate society."

Two years ago one would have expected bloggers to leap up on the Professor, admonish her for being a Luddite, and give her a generally thorough 'Fisking'.

But instead her column provoked an outpouring of empathy.

"It actually destroys brain cells or something, because if I've been doing too much online reading, I lose the patience for following a sustained or subtle argument, or reading a complex novel," wrote Body and Soul blog's 'Jeanne D'arc'.

"As a fellow sufferer, lemme tell ya, the phenomenon that Jeanne D'arc is describing up there is real, and more than a little worrisome when you first notice it. It just feels so ... organic, somehow, like you've damaged a part of the brain itself," sympathizes blogger Jack O'Toole.

" I'll run into a sentence that suddenly reminds me of something — and then spend the next minute staring into space thinking of something entirely unrelated to the book at hand. Eventually I snap back, but obviously this behavior reduces both my reading rate and my reading comprehension," writes journalist and blogger Kevin Drum.

"Is this really because of blogging? I don't know for sure, but it feels like it's related to blogging, and it's a real problem. As wonderful as blogs, magazines, and newspapers are, there's simply no way to really learn about a subject except by reading a book - and the less I do that, the less I understand about the broader, deeper issues that go beyond merely the outrage of the day," he added.

"I'm not sure if that argument really has any validity....Hey look, a bird!" adds a wag.

Ironically, in a recent survey, 48.7 per cent of bloggers cited 'therapy' as their primary reason for maintaing a weblog. So this is a 'cure' that's turning out to be worse than the disease.

"I need to get away from the fast and facile and let my brain heal," says Jeanne D'arc, recommending blog breaks.

"It actually feels like recovering a bit of humanity that I forgot I had."

If even bloggers are rejecting the Wibbly Web, and getting back to books, then things are taking a turn for the better. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.