I did some actual journalism and wrote an article about internet addictionfor The Week magazine, and interviewed the head of an Internet Addiction Rehab. Here’s an excerpt.
Researchers have noted a rise in something called Digital Attention Disorder — the addiction to social networks and computers in general.
How does it work? More than 50 years ago, psychologist B.F. Skinner was experimenting on rats and pigeons, and noticed that the unpredictability of reward was a major motivator for animals. If a reward arrives either predictably or too infrequently, the animal eventually loses interest. But when there was anticipation of a reward that comes with just enoughfrequency, the animals’ brains would consistently release dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that (basically) regulates pleasure.
What does this have to do with the internet? Some researchers believe that intermittent reinforcement — in the form of texts, tweets, and various other social media — may be working on our brains the same way rewards did on Skinner’s rats.
“Internet addiction is the same as any other addiction — excessive release of dopamine,” says Hilarie Cash, executive director of the reStart program for internet addiction and recovery, a Seattle-area rehab program that helps wean people off the internet.“Addiction is addiction. Whether it’s gambling, cocaine, alcohol, or Facebook.”
Not to be outdone by People’s annual ode to chiseled abs, The Onion nominated North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Unfortunately, not everyone was in on the spoof, namely China’s largest Communist Party newspaper,The People’s Daily, which not only took the bait but splashed a 55-page slideshow dedicated to the boyish leader across its homepage.
The People’s Daily quotes The Onion, saying:
With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.
“Forget Barack Obama and Mitt Romney,” says Matt Negrin at ABC News. The battle for the White House may have been the most momentous event on Tuesday, but “the most exciting matchup of the night was between Karl Rove and his employer, Fox News.”
After the network’s decision desk called Ohio — and thus the presidency — for Obama at little after 11 pm (ET), the GOP strategist and super PAC kingpin protested (and protested), arguing that there were too many votes left, that Romney was closing the gap, and that Fox should un-call Ohio. “That’s awkward,” said anchor Megyn Kelly.