Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Faits divers -- Internet addiction saps the manly virtues

Eugene Volokh, offers this take on a Finnish warning of a future of internet weaklings:

Corporal Klinger should have thought of that! According to AFP,

A growing number of conscripts have to be dismissed from Finland's armed forces every year due to an internet addiction that makes them unsuited for service, an official said on Tuesday.

"It's an increasing problem. More and more young people are always on the internet day and night. They get up around noon and have neither friends nor hobbies. When they get into the army, it's a shock to them," Jyrki Kivelae, head of the conscription division at the Finnish defence staff, said. . .

"It's really a shock to them, they are physically too weak to do the service, and mentally unprepared to deal with people directly and not through the internet," Kivelae said.

Finland's defence relies solely on conscripted forces, with nearly 30,000 male Finns undergoing six to 12 months of compulsory military training every year . . . .

[S]ome nine percent [of conscripts] are dismissed due to medical reasons, including internet addiction that is now classified as a temporary mental condition, Kivelae noted.

"So we send them back home, where they can stay for two or three years more, then they can come back to the army later when they are more grown-up and able to carry out their duty."

Yeah, right, Internet addiction, that's the ticket. My conjecture: The Finnish military doesn't really need as much manpower as it's getting; it figures that lazy soldiers are more trouble than they're worth, and when "a temporary mental condition" such as "internet addiction" can be blamed, everyone is happy. Somehow I think that if there was a war on, this dread disease could be cured with remarkable ease.

This is not the first time Prof Volokh has addressed the risk of Internet addiction. In April 2002 TechCentralStation:

"Internet Addiction," experts say, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Recent research shows that Internet Addiction is just a special case of what might more broadly be called Communication Addiction. Most healthy individuals tend to spend their time doing normal, productive things like eating, sleeping, working, caring for their children, and having sex. But recently, some have started to devote an inordinate amount of time to the clearly far less valuable and more dangerous activity of Communication (and a related behavior, Information Gathering).

Not only does this distract them from other activities, but extended bouts of Communication are often accompanied by other unhealthful behavior, such as consumption of intoxicants and sometimes excessive quantities of food. Addicts have often been known to express regret over the time this disease takes away from much more vital activities (such as sleep), and over behavior -- such as possibly unsafe sexual activity -- that Communication has indirectly facilitated.

Communication Addicts generally find it acutely emotionally painful to quit. Sometimes after only a few days away from their addiction, sufferers begin to feel symptoms that are quite similar to clinical depression. The refusal of others to continue communicating with them has been known to lead to lowered self-esteem, psychological injury, and in extreme cases even suicide.

Their recent development of the new and questionable technology known as "language" puts certain individuals, known as "humans" -- already vulnerable because of their abnormal gregariousness -- into especially grave peril from Communication Addiction. Experts believe that their troubled lifestyle may lead this particular group to become threats to themselves, to others, and to the environment.

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