The internet is a huge playground of limitless possibilities. Best of all (or worst) is that it can be accessed almost anywhere and by anyone. One of the more common reasons on why people dwell in the internet is for social reasons.
Internet socialization occurs as long as you come into contact with another person by sending a smile, chatting, or comparing scores in a game. It can evolve into more complex interactions that allow people to buy and sell products or share photos and videos with one another. In more obvious forms, we have people dating, and even engaging in sexual behaviors (cybersex) in the internet. I have nothing against socializing in the internet but we have to take notice people whose lives are negatively affected by it. It can be damaging because internet socialization is more fake and artificial than it is real; it does not portray the real social world and because of the perks it offers, it endangers more and more people to prefer it over real life.
In the attempt to understand cyber addiction or what is also known as internet addiction, we try to list down the rewards and reinforcers of internet socialization. Here are some perks of what the internet can offer which real life socialization cannot provide us:
1. Anonymity – In the internet, we can become anyone we want to be. I’ve encountered guys who pose as females in the net; young children who pose as ‘though’ guys and just express their rage safely behind their fake names and pseudonyms. Unlike in real life, people in the internet can express their ‘dark side’ and get away with it.
2. Privacy – The internet provides a safe distance or barrier between two people interacting. Chatting alone is definitely less threatening and less invasive as compared to an actual face-to-face conversation. We can meet as much people as we can and not worry about things like date rape, being physically assaulted, scammed or being stalked.
Because of privacy, we can reach out to others, learn from them and switch off our computers when we choose to do so. This advantage of the internet allows us to meet the people we want to meet and avoid the people we don’t want to meet. They are in full control of their time and their comfort levels in interacting with others.
3. Option to Start Over – This is an advantage of the internet life which many people take advantage of. It’s no different from having a second or a third chance in life. If I made a mistake that ruined my reputation or relationships, all I have to do is to create a new account and have a fresh start. This is something we definitely don’t have in the real social world.
4. Convenience. Everything is right under your mouse. You can talk to your friends, conduct business meetings and order your lunch without having to leave your bedroom at all! Imagine or meeting up with your group mates in school or your colleagues at work in the comfort of your home! Although using the internet to make the workplace and one’s life more effective is one thing, but there are people out there who use the internet to completely detach themselves from human contact.
Looking at these 4 general advantages of internet socialization, it comes to no wonder why people enjoy it and sometimes even ‘get hooked’ to it. Each of these reasons will shed more light on why people fall prey into internet addiction. Analytically, the underlying reason is simple: people who fall prey for internet addiction are people looking for an escape from what they perceive as their own chaotic life. They could not find a place in the real world where they can be themselves so they resort to escaping to a less threatening reality where people can be more accepting of them. In the end, people suffering from cyber-addiction are people who simply want to be accepted and respected for being who they are and who they are not. Whether it’s a control issue, a privacy issue, or an issue on starting over or convenience, the more their needs are met outside the internet, the less time they will spend socializing in cyberspace.