Without a Net

Friday, September 18, 2009


Addicted to the web, texting or video games? Now there’s help. reSTART, the first internet addiction treatment center in the U.S., opened its doors this summer. We speak to executive director Hilarie Cash and recent patient Ben Alexander, whose drug of choice was World of Warcraft.

Comments [9]

John Lloyd from Chicago

This is amusing.

Before the internet, there were BBSes; before that, there was ham radio. I suspect the same sorts of personalities compulsively engage in a wide variety of activities for roughly identical reasons.

When you think about it, what passes for "genius" in our society is generally a mix of talent and obsession. But it seems to only apply to obsessions people actually care about. If you're Garry Kasparov, you get riches and accolades for playing chess; if you are the world's greatest Puzzle Fighter™ master, you're just some schmuck.

Does anyone remember "Mazes and Monsters", the corny movie with a young Tom Hanks, in which he played a kid who flipped out from his obsession with a role-playing game? America, I think, was in the grip of the "Satanic panic" at the time, and a lot of people saw these games as a serious menace. But I think in the years since, most of us have forgotten that panic. I expect that as the ubiquity of the internet becomes "old news" in the unfolding years, these sorts of panics will seem quaint and silly.


Oct. 01 2009 10:19 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven

Remember in the '80s when they "medicalized" religion (cults)?

Sep. 25 2009 02:21 AM
David Lieberman from California

My wife suffers from a gardening addiction; she spends hours watering, weeding, pruning. There must be help for her somewhere.

And then there is my reading addiction, my daughter's guitar playing addiction, my grandson's bike riding addiction and...

Will health care reform cover these?

Sep. 22 2009 02:55 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

The story reminded me of someone I knew at university. This was in the 90s (before the web became popular and most people, including me, hadn't heard of it). This acquaintance of mine spent a lot of time on MUDs (Multi User Dungeons).[1] It got to the point where he was spending all his time on-line and I think his degree suffered because of it.

[1] The forerunners of programmes like World of Warcraft.

Sep. 22 2009 06:44 AM

I think it's misleading to call Ben Alexander's problem an "internet addiction". He has a computer game addiction -- every gamer knows that World of Warcraft is probably the most addictive game out there right now. To call his problem an internet addiction makes it seem like he's just facebooking and twittering too often or something.

Sep. 21 2009 11:43 PM
Siobhan Murray

Post the transcript, I need to write a summary on this for tomorrow

Sep. 21 2009 05:05 PM
Rob Copeland from Baltimore, Maryland

After hearing the report and the interview with Ben Alexander I wondered if the internet addiction was actually a symptom of underlying issue that he was having. He mentioned social anxiety -- was this being treated? While World of Warcraft is designed to be a game that rewards consistent play he could have just as easily been inside his dorm room on Xbox Live or any other activity that allows one to avoid social interactions. I think that if this was being reported on pre-internet he could have found the same escape in books or for that matter watching tv. Full disclosure: I play world of warcraft, I have diagnosed social anxiety disorder, I take medication so I'm able to function in the real world, pre-medication I could get lost for hours in the game.

Also just a note -- in the blurb you link to www.wow.com which is the blog Wowinsider (it covers world of warcraft but is not the official site) You want to link to www.worldofwarcraft.com

Sep. 21 2009 11:37 AM
Mark O. Hammontree from Austin

But I LIKE that internet monkey on my back...

It was rather weird to wake up, turn on my computer, start browsing the internet (shopping for a garage door, not game playing), and realize that the radio broadcast was talking about me...

Sep. 20 2009 11:02 AM
Rick Evans from Lon -71° 05' Lat +42° 11'

If this is not another Alan Abel hoax, it ought to be.

Sep. 20 2009 07:29 AM

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