Thursday, April 09, 2009

What *do* we think of the Internet?

The discussion in the Selwyn article of the developed-world assumption that "the Internet is always good" reminded me of a phenomenon that indicates that this is not always the case -- for instance, the Internet Addiction Recovery Center, founded in 1995. (And oh, the fad's not over yet.)

Thing is, Internet addiction is just bad science. There is an actual medical definition of addiction, but that definition excludes the possibility of it being applied to the Internet (or video games. Or TV.)

But obviously there's a social undercurrent here that's running against the "Internet yay" meme that Selwyn identifies (and that is, indeed, the primary narrative running through developed countries' attitudes toward technology). I don't think it's just a technophobic minority, either; there's a range of negative stereotypes associated with "computer nerds" and people who dedicate a large portion of their social interaction energy to online activities. The online acronym is IRL, "in real life," implying that the Internet isn't really "real" (despite the fact that it's made up of information and conversations being exchanged by real people). While it's true that digital divide policy is based on the idea that the Internet is a universal good, that's not really all that's going on in a wider context.

No comments:

Post a Comment