Problematic Internet Use (PIU) is now officially a thing, at least according to Susan M. Snyder, an assistant professor of social work at Georgia State University, writing in Slate.
The writer conducted surveys of college students to learn about the syndrome. In reading the responses, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. For example, from a student called Hannah:
But like using Skype helps keep you connected and also when we are at home we watch a movie together, it’s like family time, you know. And um, like you know, if we read the same, like article, then we can talk about it on Skype.
Sound familiar? Please read the entire article for context and details about the survey. There is probably no way to prove that young college students are afflicted with anything real, or, if so, if the Internet is the culprit. Inability to articulate one's thoughts predates modern technology. But when you walk into a large classroom full of students, what are they doing? Necks craned, digits flying, ear buds inserted: total engagement. You can witness the same phenomenon in a coffee shop, or even at a family dinner—perhaps driving Grandma crazy.
When the Internet became portable—accessible with small tablets and other hand-held devices, it was a more significant development in some ways than the Web's advent itself. Much of the activity is not video games or other forms of entertainment. It's social media, which must be obeyed, or one risks being left out. The youthful faces staring at the tiny screens are not happy, as a general rule. Check it out. They are fearful of exclusion.
We are all sinners, of course. Perhaps you—yes, you!—are using the Internet right now, ignoring human activity more important or truly interesting. And, while at the TCCTA convention this week, be sure to follow friends' activities on Twitter and Facebook. Don't be left out! Take plenty of selfies to share!
Hypocrisy. The gift that keeps on giving.