When you depend on the internet for work and gaming as I do, the concept of not going online for a week is a bit of a strange one. It's the kind of thing I like to do when I go on holiday, including turning my phone off, but it's a little harder to imagine doing that when at home. Have you ever had your internet go down for a couple of days? It's amazing how often you think “Oh I'll just look at that up,” or “I'll just download that,” before you realise that you can't.
That same sort of “addiction,” is what's being looked into by the following documentary, where five self professed internet addicts were deprived of it for a week, with differing results:[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azJIBDGvpZ0′]
To watch the full documentary, check it out here.
During the week, the participants were introduced to scientists and psychologists who looked at the reasons people find themselves wanting more and more information via the internet and it boils down to either a dopamine addiction via pornography, gaming or other satisfactory online activities, versus a heightened curiosity, where new information is classed by the brain as being important. This is why sites that offer quick, vapid information like image sites, memes, Facebook status updates, are all so interesting to heavy users, despite their banality.
One interesting idea that cropped up during filming, was that because of the immediate nature of communication now, we don't put as much thought into how it could come across and the feelings expressed are often shallower because of it. When the participating teen decided to write a letter to a friend for the first time, she went into great depth compared to her usual BBMs.
This is a theme that continues throughout the documentary, with social networking, the taking of selfies and other vapid internet activities, being shown as though socially inclusive, as something that ultimately leads to disconnect between people and less thought behind actions. Instead of creating a scrap book of pictures to look back on yourself and with loved ones down the line, people post instagram pictures and hope to get lots of likes.
In the end, the people in the study found it “transformative, ” taking a week off and decided that ultimately a lot of social media is just white noise.
KitGuru Says: While I wouldn't encourage any of you to not come online – my job here depends on your access to some extent – it's interesting to look at it like this and makes me think about modifying the way I use the internet. What about you guys?