The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, generally accepted as the professional authority on mental illnesses, will include “Internet use disorder” in its appendix next year. Such a position means that scientists believe there is a concern that deserves additional research before deeming it a condition. “It is [a] basic cultural recognition,” explains psychologist Kelly McGonigal, “that people have a pathological relationship with their devices. People feel not just addicted, but trapped.”
This reassessment of how humans are relating to devices that connect them to the Internet comes at a time when the equities market has turned away from Facebook stock. Even the director of the executive offices at Facebook is encouraging people to turn off their screens. People, he has noted, “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.” Reactions are surfacing elsewhere. For instance, the football coach at Florida State University now requires that all players disconnect from Twitter for the entire season. “It’s a distraction,” he observed.
In essence, society seems to be entering an era in which all things Internet are undergoing a revaluation. “We’re done with this honeymoon phase,” explains Soren Gordhamer, who in 2010 started organizing an annual conference called Wisdom 2.0, which encourages the pursuit of balance in the digital age. “And now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’”
We expect the Internet and entities connected to it will increasingly come under scrutiny, as digital technology joins the wide-ranging reassessment process we have called “Rethinking Everything.”