A guest post in a series form students on the BA Creative and Professional Writing at Nottingham University.
A friend texts me an invite for coffee, but spends the next two hours continuously checking her phone. She isn’t receiving calls or emails from work – she’s refreshing her Facebook live feed. I ask her why she bothered to invite me out if she can’t pull herself away from cyberspace. She snaps back, ‘it’s only Facebook!’
We are a generation defined by our internet usage. 24/7 connectivity to the world, thanks to wi-fi and 3G, allows us to stay on top of our emails, friends’ holidays, twitter timelines, and tumblr memes.
It’s normal to carry a phone around with you. We stay in touch with family and friends throughout the day, arranging and re-arranging, updating. But is there a point of no return?
We rely on the internet for everything – news, conversation, shopping.
So could you push through a single week without access to the internet? You wake up in the morning and you don’t check BBC news. You can’t even go to Facebook’s main page. Twitter is off-limits. So is Eat Student (if you want a takeaway, better take a stroll down to the actual place itself!), eBay (no more staying up til 3am waiting for bids to end), and Reddit. You wander through the day without ‘liking’ anyone’s status, retweeting those oh-so-witty one-liners, or posting pictures on Instagram.
Is our ever-growing dependence on the internet becoming a problem? Maybe not on the surface. But multiple studies have proven that Internet Addiction Disorder is a real thing – this is nothing new. But are we taking it as seriously as we should? Internet users experience “withdrawal” symptoms similar to those of drug users – shakiness, anxiety, a general desire to throw their televisions out the window. I tried to go one week without internet access in 2011 – and broke after three days, because I “needed” some new music to listen to. I haven’t tried since.
Could you ignore your emails for a week, or disable your Facebook for one month? Would you cry without your daily dose of cute cats on Youtube? Could you abandon 4oD and go back to TV programmes with adverts?
One day? One week? One month?
And if you can’t do it… well, neither can I. So, I guess we’re all addicts.