All the bloggers this weekend were all "Oh no Internet addiction is an illness!" Because an editorialist in the American Journal of Psychiatry says excessive Internet use should be classified as a mental disorder. But that's missing the point. The problem isn't that people overuse the Internet. The problem is that the Internet is still trapped in boxes and not embedded in our brains.
When I'm out, I want to know what people are saying to me. Used to be I needed to go to my big box and look up my messages. Now I can go out and still check for messages in a little box in my pocket. Next I want a device to speak messages into my head without me having to use my hands. That's not actually ridiculous!
Science fiction has used this idea for years; the fantasy used to be written up as mystical telepathy, but eventually writers figured we'll actually engineer this ability some day, so now sci-fi telepathy uses implants and nanotechnology. So will real communications, soon enough. As with cell phones, the technology will look clunky at first. For example, this neckband microphone could let people Google by silently forming words in their throats.
Imagine having a conversation and being able to invisibly call up instant research. For all practical purposes, you'd be as smart as the Internet (or as dumb as the Internet, but still). Eventually such devices will get slick and unnoticeable, until a hands-free Internet tool is as essential as a cell phone. We've seen how much an Internet-in-boxes did for the world; imagine what Internet-in-our-brains will do.
Meanwhile, look at the problems of excessive Internet use. They're just the old problems of desk work: sedentary lifestyle and frustration at broken machines. There's nothing inherently bad about being more connected to the world. (There's something inherently annoying, but you can turn off your Facebook feeds easier than you can ignore your family.)
My condition gives me "anger, tension and/or depression." It causes "arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation and fatigue." It makes me stupid and forgetful. Twelve hours a day online is unhealthy; that's why I need twenty-four.