According to "life coach and agony aunt" Pam Spurr, "Internet addiction" isn't just for unemployed, Warcraft-playing schlubs anymore. This beast can also attack young women — especially those named Anna.
At first glance, Spurr's portrayal (in the Daily Mail, of course) of "my client Anna" is flattering. She's "attractive, well-educated" and a "smart, savvy, career [woman]." Why thank you, Dr. Spurr! But wait, there's a "dark side." Writes Spurr,
Rather than spending her evenings at the latest fashionable restaurant or gossiping over cocktails at a trendy wine bar, Anna instead spends up to five hours a night on her laptop - obsessively tracking the lives of her ex-boyfriend, old friends and acquaintances and work colleagues.
Yes, Anna's "whole demeanour is nothing more than a well-constructed facade," disguising a life enslaved by Facebook and gossip sites. And she's not alone. "Ellen," 42, "would strike you as a well-presented and elegant divorcee who probably had to fight off potential suitors" but actually she spends all day trolling dating websites without contacting anyone. And "Sarah, 31" spent her salary buying clothes online because it was hard to make new friends. Spurr writes, "When so many seemingly capable and sensible women are being sucked into a nightmare of prolonged internet surfing, it's hard not to conclude a serious problem is developing in our increasingly fractured society."
Or, like, not. To be clear, I wasn't surprised by the study released last week that linked excessive Internet use with depression. In fact, just Saturday I managed to make a minor bad mood way worse by spending two hours reading online advice columns. The Internet pays my rent, so I can't get too down on it, but I know the deadening properties of too much clicking and scrolling. Just like any other repetitive, solitary activity (oh hai, John Mayer), it's no substitute for actual human contact, and it can leave you feeling slightly chafed.
But while I'm glad that Anna, Ellen, and Sarah sought help, I don't know that their plight deserves a trend piece just yet. For one thing, it's all too Perils of Pauline — the beautiful women "sucked into a nightmare of prolonged internet surfing." Internet addiction is widespread enough that the APA is considering adding it to the DSM-5, but I don't know why we should be surprised that it can occur in "capable and sensible women." Except that manufactured shock over young women in trouble seems to sell papers. Then there's Spurr's view of what women like Anna should be doing: visiting "the latest fashionable restaurant" or "a trendy wine bar." Her choices appear to be "Internet addict" or "annoying yuppie cliche" — now that's depressing.
Earlier: Virtual Reality