For neo-liberal behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Netflix, as well as an increasing number of nations, the Internet has become a new narcotic.
We won’t glorify the pre-Internet era. Those who lived before realize how much this technical instrument has impacted everything. Many of us still remember the challenges of accessing basic information, such as slow fax machines or the time it took to send a letter over the globe.
No, it wasn’t better earlier, at least not in this area. The Internet has revolutionized our lives by enabling us to work,
communicate, and enjoy ourselves at will. It also gives us with a plethora of information at our fingertips. What more could one want? We must ask ourselves now, after more than two decades of Internet use, if the Internet liberates us or transforms us into willing slaves. Has this liberating instrument become a weapon of dominance?
Among the best books on this issue is Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter, Marketing Professor at NYU. He warns us that the Internet is a new sort of drug with equally terrible effects. A smartphone, email, video games, Facebook, Instagram, or Netflix are all addictions for almost half of the developed world.
The companies that control these items use clever techniques to exploit human faults (narcissism, need for validation, etc.) to make them almost irresistible. Their use creates what psychologists term “behavioural addictions,” which are “addictions to behaviors rather than psychoactive products.” So the “drug addict” needs the Internet and its offerings. It becomes his raison d’être, and he loses control. Online gambling may cause loneliness, despair, misery, and even financial disaster.
The term “drug” may be overused, but it is correct. You simply need to spend a few hours on social media to realize how “crazy” we are.
Some people update their profile image every day, while others use it to rant or remark on current events every ten minutes. It pulls out the worst in people, like voyeurism and exhibitionism, producing a carnival of shameless egos on a never-ending chase for fake adulation.
With social media, we may construct a lovely picture of ourselves for the outer world while disguising our sadness and loneliness. These representations meant to inspire adoration and jealousy are akin to modern gods. They promote narcissism and the triumphant gaze of others.