Research indicates that there are millions of people addicted to the Internet (p. 104). This addiction is similar to a shopping addiction, where more is considered better. People often compulsively collect friends.
The Internet has become an integral part of our lives, revolutionizing communication, information access, and entertainment. However, alongside its numerous benefits, research has also revealed the dark side of excessive Internet use, namely addiction. Internet addiction, also known as problematic Internet use or compulsive Internet use, refers to individuals who are unable to control their Internet usage despite the negative consequences it may have on their lives (Griffiths, 1999).
This paper aims to explore the addictive nature of the Internet, drawing parallels between Internet addiction and other forms of addiction, such as shopping addiction. By examining the compulsive behavior associated with Internet addiction and the ways in which individuals accumulate online friends, this paper will shed light on the similarities between Internet addiction and shopping addiction, where the acquisition of more is considered better.
Compulsive behavior and Internet addiction:
Compulsive behavior is a key characteristic of addiction, including Internet addiction. Individuals with Internet addiction display a strong urge to engage in Internet use and find it increasingly difficult to control or limit their online activities (Young, 1999). They may spend excessive amounts of time online, neglecting their work or school responsibilities and social relationships in the process.
Similar to shopping addicts who experience a strong desire to acquire more possessions, Internet addicts exhibit a similar behavior pattern of compulsively collecting online friends. The notion of collecting friends on social media platforms reflects the human desire for social acceptance and validation. Collecting friends on the Internet provides a sense of increased social status and popularity (Griffiths, 2000). This behavior is akin to shopping addicts who accumulate excessive material possessions as a way to boost their self-esteem and social standing.
The desire for quantity over quality:
In both Internet addiction and shopping addiction, the focus is on quantity rather than quality. Internet addicts often aim to increase their list of friends or followers on social media platforms. They perceive more friends or followers as a validation of their popularity and social worth (Whang et al., 2003). Similarly, shopping addicts are driven by the desire to accumulate more and more possessions, as they believe it will enhance their social status and personal satisfaction.
This emphasis on quantity rather than quality can have negative consequences. For Internet addicts, the excessive focus on collecting friends can lead to a dilution of genuine social connections. By valuing the quantity of online friends, these individuals may fail to establish meaningful and authentic relationships offline (Griffiths, 1999). Similarly, individuals with shopping addiction may find superficial gratification in acquiring more possessions, but it may leave them feeling empty and unfulfilled in the long run.
Consequences of Internet addiction and shopping addiction:
Uncontrolled Internet use can have detrimental effects on various aspects of a person’s life. Internet addicts may experience academic or work-related difficulties, declining physical health due to sedentary behavior, and strained interpersonal relationships (Young, 1996). Similarly, shopping addicts may face financial difficulties, strained personal relationships, and a loss of self-control in relation to their spending habits (Roberts et al., 2005).
Moreover, both addictions can lead to psychological distress. Internet addicts may suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem as a result of their excessive online behaviors (Shaw & Black, 2008). Likewise, shopping addicts may experience feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse following their shopping sprees (Dittmar et al., 1995).
The addictive nature of the Internet has been well-documented, with research suggesting that millions of people worldwide are affected by this behavioral disorder. This addiction shares similarities with shopping addiction, particularly with regards to compulsive behavior and the desire for quantity over quality. Individuals with Internet addiction often exhibit compulsive behavior in collecting online friends, much like shopping addicts who compulsively acquire possessions.
The consequences of these addictions can manifest in various aspects of an individual’s life, including academic or work-related problems, strained relationships, and psychological distress. As society continues to become more reliant on the Internet, understanding and addressing Internet addiction is crucial for maintaining balanced and healthy lives.