Feeds

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

Other 90% too burned-out to respond

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.