My Short Bout With ‘Internet Withdrawal’

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TS-478005577 Computer addiction2By Katherine Sharma

Is “Internet withdrawal” a real thing? I know that I experienced a sense of helpless isolation and frustration last week when my Internet connection became sporadic (until a cable tech fixed a faulty connection). As someone who actually remembers the days before computers, it is astounding to realize how dependent on technology we are in our daily routines, our communications and our work life.

With unreliable Internet service, I had to scurry to support my marketing consulting clients, and some projects were necessarily delayed. Various transactions and communications for my daughter’s wedding were disrupted. I didn’t get my blog post done because it was prioritized below work. But most projects still proceeded, and social communications and e-mail responses were handled via smartphone.

TS-504134199 Students on ComputersYes, there was an underlying, anxious sense of disconnection, but it hardly seemed a symptom of a deeper disorder. In fact, per Wikipedia, Internet Addiction Disorder is a term coined in a satirical essay by Dr. Ivan Goldberg in 1995 and then taken seriously by researchers and, of course, the media, who have since produced new terms like problematic Internet use, compulsive Internet use, Internet overuse, pathological computer use and even iDisorder. All refer to Internet use that interferes with normal life–such as excessive computer game play, online gambling, porn viewing, shopping, constant social networking or workaholic behavior–to the extent that folks experience anxiety, depression and withdrawal symptoms similar to drug users if they go offline. It is not an official mental disorder in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet, but that doesn’t stop the media from headlining various studies documenting “Facebook addiction,” “Internet withdrawal” and its cousin “mobile phone withdrawal.”

In 2014, a Business Insider story noted that workaholics especially suffer withdrawal symptoms when cut off from the Internet (because they can no longer work 24/7). To be honest, maybe because, unlike my kids, I have lived in a world without digital technology, I soon banished anxiety over my temporary Internet loss with old-fashioned versions of Internet-enabled activities, like reading and face-to-face socializing. Frankly, I don’t think it’s the Internet that is the problem, except as a tool making it easier to indulge the real addictions: gambling, porn, workaholism, shopaholism, etc. But if you think you are afflicted by Internet dependency, maybe you should check out


Katherine Sharma’s family roots are in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. But after her early childhood in Texas, she has moved around the country and lived in seven other states, from Virginia to Hawaii. She currently resides in California with her husband and three children. She has also traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia, and makes regular visits to family in India. After receiving her bachelor’s degree. in economics and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan, Katherine worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor for more than 15 years. She then shifted into management and marketing roles for firms in industries ranging from outdoor recreation to insurance to direct marketing. Although Katherine still works as a marketing consultant, she is now focused on creative writing.

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