En el Congreso Mundial de Psiquiatras, celebrado en Madrid, se debatió también sobre las personas que viven "enganchadas" en la Red. Algunas asociaciones tratan de luchar contra esta nueva enfermedad



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En el Congreso Mundial de Psiquiatras, celebrado en Madrid, se debatió también sobre las personas que viven "enganchadas" en la Red. Algunas asociaciones tratan de luchar contra esta nueva enfermedad.



ubo un tiempo en el que las noticias tardaban meses o años en conocerse. A veces, ni siquiera llegaban. Y, generalmente, cuando lo hacían, llegaban tergiversadas por la subjetividad del boca a boca: «Me lo ha dicho uno de Becilla», «Pues a mí me lo explicó el hijo de Saturnino, el de Mayorga…».

Hoy en día, la información no ha perdido completamente la subjetividad. Las más de las veces, esto ocurre de forma deliberada. Pero tenemos la posibilidad de escuchar lo que ocurre en cualquier parte del mundo en tiempo real. Las imágenes del bombardeo de Bagdad durante la guerra del Golfo convirtieron a la CNN en el notario del planeta. El teléfono permite hablar con cualquier ciudadano que disponga de un aparato similar, esté donde esté. Una misma noticia podemos recibirla por múltiples canales diferentes: emisoras de radio, cadenas de televisión, periódicos.

El ciudadano corriente se ha acostumbrado a la idea de que el mundo está al alcance de sus dedos.Y cuando esos dedos se colocan sobre el teclado de un ordenador conectado a Internet, la idea puede crecer de manera descomunal e incluso alcanzar categoría de adicción.

Camino de la realidad

Cuando se habla de Internet Addiction Disorder, IAD (trastorno de adicción a Internet), existe un consenso creciente de que se trata de una entidad patológica que, al parecer, fue descrita por primera vez por Kimberly Young, una psicóloga de la Universidad de Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (EE.UU.). Según otras fuentes, el primero en realizar la descripción fue el doctor Ivan Goldberg, del Instituto Neuropsiquiátrico de Nueva York, quien envió su propuesta de criterios diagnósticos al newsgroup rec.arts.science el 15 de mayo de 1995.

Con todo, el IAD no ha alcanzado todavía la mayoría de edad, algo que se logra con la inclusión en el manual de referencia de las enfermedades psiquiátricas: el DSM -IV. Mientras tanto, publicaciones serias, como la Canadian Medical Association Journal, abordan el tema.

El artículo que se refiere al tema fue publicado el 15 de junio de este mismo año, y su autor es Michael O'Reilly. Puesto al habla con Net conexión, O'Reilly admite que la comunidad científica aún no se ha tomado muy en serio el IAD. «En realidad, no ha habido suficiente experiencia clínica en este tema. Como con cualquier cosa nueva, la comunidad médica reacciona lentamente, pero dado que nuestra sociedad está entrando rápidamente en el territorio online, creo firmemente que hay que investigar sobre el IAD», afirma O'Reilly. Según el experto canadiense, existen algunos grupos de personas que tienen mayor tendencia a sufrir adicción en sus conexiones: Personas que trabajan desde su casa, preferentemente mujeres de mediana edad, personas con niveles inferiores de educación y estudiantes de cualquier edad o grupo socioeconómico.


Algunos recursos
¿Alguien se imagina una reunión de alcohólicos anónimos en un bar? Algo parecido ocurre en Internet con el IAD. Existe una lista de distribución como elemento de soporte para personas que se consideran «enganchadas» a la Red. El moderador es el propio Ivan Goldberg. El grupo, que recibe el nombre de Internet Addiction Support Group requiere, para suscribirse, el envío de un mensaje a la dirección i-a-s-g@netcom.com, con el mensaje: «subscribe i-a-s-g tu.nombre@tudireccion.es». No se trata de una lista excesivamente activa, pero en ella aparecen historias realmente preocupantes de personas que abandonan parcelas importantes de su vida offline para vivir conectados. Curiosamente, tras la primera intervención de Net conexión, sólo se recibió un mensaje: «¡Lárgate!» El remitente consideraba que la lista era un territorio donde los curiosos no eran bienvenidos. Aunque tuvieran buenas intenciones.

Algunos webs dedicados a la adicción, curiosamente, se dedican más a reírse de la cuestión que a otra cosa. Están muy bien para echar unas risas y algunos, incluso, intentan sacar un dinerillo de la cuestión, como Netaholics, que intenta colocarnos unas camisetas «de diseño exclusivo». En CiberWidows juegan con la idea de la soledad de las sufridas esposas. En Webaholics no se quedan atrás. Una aproximación más seria se encuentra en el recurso que dirige la doctora Young, desde el cual se puede acceder a información de interés sobre la patología e, incluso, realizar una encuesta para apoyar el estudio que se realiza sobre la materia.

En cualquier caso, que los alarmistas no afilen sus armas, pues del mismo modo que el alcoholismo no envilece la última añada de Rioja, el IAD no convierte a Internet en un recurso negativo. Como decían los clásicos, «la virtud está en el término medio».

Internet Addiction Disorder


As the incidence and prevalence of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) has

been increasing exponentially, a support group, The Internet Addiction

Support Group (IASG) has been established. Below are the official

criteria for the diagnosis of IAD and subscription information for the IASG.

Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) - Diagnostic Criteria

A maladaptive pattern of Internet use, leading to clinically significant

impairment or distress as manifested by three (or more) of the following,

occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

(I) tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

(A) A need for markedly increased amounts of time

on Internet to achieve satisfaction

(B) markedly diminished effect with continued use

of the same amount of time on Internet

(II) withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following

(A) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome

(1) Cessation of (or reduction) in Internet use

that has been heavy and prolonged.

(2) Two (or more) of the following, developing within

several days to a month after Criterion 1:

(a) psychomotor agitation

(b) anxiety

(c) obsessive thinking about what is happening

on Internet

(d) fantasies or dreams about Internet

(e) voluntary or involuntary typing movements

of the fingers

(3) The symptoms in Criterion 2 cause distress or

impairment in social, occupational or another

important area of functioning

(B) Use of Internet or a similar on-line service is engaged in

to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

(III) Internet is often accessed more often or for longer periods of time

than was intended

(IV) There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down

or control Internet use

(V) A great deal of time is spent in activities related to Internet

use (e.g., buying Internet books, trying out new WWW browsers,

researching Internet vendors, organizing files of downloaded materials.)

(VI) Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are

given up or reduced because of Internet use.

(VII) Internet use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent

or recurrent physical, social, occupational, or psychological

problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by

Internet use (sleep deprivation, marital difficulties, lateness for

early morning appointments, neglect of occupational duties, or

feelings of abandonment in significant others)

Subscribe to the Internet Addiction Support Group by e-mail:

Address: listserv@netcom.com

Subject: (leave blank)

Message: Subscribe i-a-s-g

- ivan -

-- \\\\

(@ @)


||-----------------------------------------------------ooOo-( )-oOoo----||

|| Ivan Goldberg, MD ~ ||

|| ikg1@columbia.edu psydoc@netcom.com ||

|| V: 212 876 7800 / 1346 Lexington Ave NYC 10128 / F: 212 737 0473 ||

|| http://avocado.pc.helsinki.fi/~janne/ikg/ ||

||----------------------------------------------------------------------||







Are you suffering from Internet Addiction Disorder?


As the incidence and prevalence of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) has been increasing exponentially, a support group, The Internet Addiction Support Group (IASG) has been established. Below are the official criteria for the diagnosis of IAD and subscription information for the IASG. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) - Diagnostic Criteria A maladaptive pattern of Internet use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:



  • (I) tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

  • (A) A need for markedly increased amounts of time on Internet to achieve satisfaction

  • (B) markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on Internet

  • (II) withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

  • (A) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome
  • (1) Cessation of (or reduction) in Internet use that has been heavy and prolonged.


  • (2) Two (or more) of the following, developing within several days to a month after Criterion 1:

  • (a) psychomotor agitation

  • (b) anxiety

  • (c) obsessive thinking about what is happening on Internet

  • (d) fantasies or dreams about Internet

  • (e) voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers

  • (3) The symptoms in Criterion 2 cause distress or impairment in social, occupational or another important area of functioning

  • (B) Use of Internet or a similar on-line service is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

  • (III) Internet is often accessed more often or for longer periods of time than was intended

  • (IV) There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control Internet use

  • (V) A great deal of time is spent in activities related to Internet use (e.g., buying Internet books, trying out new WWW browsers, researching Internet vendors, organizing files of downloaded materials.)

  • (VI) Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of Internet use.

  • (VII) Internet use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical, social, occupational, or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by Internet use (sleep deprivation, marital difficulties, lateness for early morning appointments, neglect of occupational duties, or feelings of abandonment in significant others)

Subscribe to the Internet Addiction Support Group by e-mail:

Address: listserv@netcom.com

Subject: (leave blank)

Message: Subscribe i-a-s-g

Ivan Goldberg, MD

ikg1@columbia.edu psydoc@netcom.com


V: 212 876 7800 / 1346 Lexington Ave NYC 10128 / F: 212 737 0473

http://avocado.pc.helsinki.fi/~janne/ikg/


Psychology of Cyberspace ->

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This article dated Sept 97 (v1.0)




John Suler, Ph.D.

Rider University

Copyright Notice

Life at the Palace






The Bad Boys of Cyberspace

Deviant Behavior in Online Multimedia Communities
and Strategies for Managing it

* Note: This article reads best as hypertext. If you plan to read it offline, use your browser to save the file in its source form. Then, when offline, use your browser to read that source file. Unless otherwise indicated, all links in this article will jump you to other points in this article. Use your browser's "back" key to return to your previous place in the article. To help you navigate through this manuscript, I've numbered the subsections along the right margin.


Introduction

SNERT -- It's All Relative or Not
Getting Known Through Anonymity


Ain't Misbehaving: The Lower End of Deviance

Clueless Newbies -- Culture Clash -- Mischief
Graffiti -- Adolescent Antics -- Parodists
Wizard Wannabes -- Deviant Enclaves
Sleepers -- Ghosts -- Commercials


Trouble-Makers: The Higher End of Deviance

1. See No Evil: Deviance Involving Offensive Avatars

Setting Avatar Standards
Pros and Cons of Setting Avatar Standards
Intervening When a Naughty Av Appears ("propgaging")
Second Opinions about Avatars
Flashing and Prop-Dropping
Hate and Violence Avatars
Abusive Blocking -- Eavesdroppers


2. Speak No Evil: Deviance Involving Offensive Language

Less Anonymity, Less Bad Mouthing
The Purely Human Intervention with Foul Talkers
"I Can't Hear You!" (the mute command)
Wizard Meets the Foul Talker (gagging and killing)
Time Out in the Rules Room
Automated Mouthwash and Word Substitutions
Unbecoming User and Room Names
Breathers -- Verbal Exhibitionists -- Stalkers
Guest Bashers -- Wizard Bashers -- Self Destroyers
Event Crashing


3. More Complex Social Problems

Revolutionaries
Freedom Fighters and Other Tenacious Debaters

Bible Thumpers

Identity Theft, impostoring and Switching
Detecting Impostors -- Intervening with Impostors
Genuine Identity Disturbances -- Depressives
Pedophiles -- Scam Artists
Gangs -- Banning the Gang
Getting to Know You (befriending the gang)
Rehabilitating the Gang?
Divide, Conquer, and Cutting off the Gang's Head
Tough Love for the Gang (kill, three strikes, ban)


4. Techno-Crimes (Hacking)

Flooding -- Crashing
Password and Registration Key Hacking
Inside the Hacker


More on Intervention Strategies

Big Brother is Watching (Presence) -- Nazis and Bleeding Hearts
Talk is Good! -- Whisper -- Be Polite, Be Dispassionate
Don't Argue, Don't' Bait -- Humor and Deflection
Snert Rehabilitation -- Circumventing Anonymity (spooking)
Bring in the Real World -- Undercover Work
Blackball Lists -- Restricted Areas and Traffic Flow
A Home for Bad Boys (Dodge City and the Pit)
Time-Out Room and Automated Lessons
Sent to the Corner (Pinning)
The Kill (disconnecting) -- Killing Machines (bots)
Exile (bans) -- Tracking -- Keeping Records
Standardizing Interventions
Formal Training of Wizards


Conclusion: Sticks and Stones


(1)

SNERT... That's what they call the real trouble-makers of cyberspace. Attributed by some to Kurt Vonnegut, the term stands for "snot-nosed Eros-ridden teenager." It concisely captures much of what many cyberspace deviants are all about. They thumb their impudent noses at authority figures and smear their ooze of discontent all over themselves and others. Frustrated drives seeking an outlet may fuel their misconduct - frustrated aggressive drives as well as sexual ones. They often are adolescents. If they aren't, then they are regressed adults acting like adolescents. In some communities, the term "snert" broadens to include any acting out, annoying, disruptive user.

The title of this article also suggests that they are males. Of course, there are bad girls in cyberspace too, but they do seem to be outnumbered by the males. Why? Maybe males - especially teenage males - have a more difficult time restraining or constructively expressing their Eros-ridden nature (i.e., they aren't as mature). Maybe they tend to be a bit lacking in the compassion and interpersonal sensitivity that's needed to realize how other users aren't Donkey Kong targets, but real people. Maybe there simply are more male users out there on the internet.

The purpose of this article is to explore deviant behavior in a multimedia chat community and strategies for dealing with that behavior. Because I am most familiar with the Palace (see the Palace Study), I will focus on that environment - especially the communities at the server sites run by The Palace Incorporated (TPI), which later merged with Electric Communities (EC). A very large majority of the people I've meet there have been pleasant, thoughtful, and helpful. However, like all chat communities, snerts and other deviant types wiggle their way in. In some cases the misbehavior at the Palace will be similar to other chat communities, in some cases different. There are universal forms of deviance that will be recognized anywhere on the internet, as well as specific forms that are unique to each community.

Almost all the techniques for handling misbehaving users that I mention in this article were discussed or implemented by the TPI officials and wizards (see the article about wizards). As old-timers with a lot of experience and some special powers that other users don't have, wizards are the experts at this task of maintaining order in the community. Their devotion and insight is to be admired. This article is dedicated to them. At times, the techniques I am suggesting can be applied by any user, wizard or not. At other times, I focus specifically on intervention strategies for wizards.

(2)

It's All Relative... or Not

Two factors will account for the universal and specific types of deviance - one technical, one social. Every chat community is built upon a unique software infrastructure that offers unique technical features for how people experience the environment and interact with each other. Misbehaving users will find a unique way to abuse almost any unique feature you offer them. If you build it, some will exploit it. For example, in the world of multimedia chat, snerts can use sounds and visual images to harass others, which would be impossible in text-only environments like IRC or AOL.

The social factor may be partially or completely independent of the technical aspects of the environment. Every culture and subculture has its own standards about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. According to the theory of "cultural relativity," what is considered normal behavior in one culture may not be considered normal in another, and vice versa. A particular type of "deviance" that is despised in one chat community may be a central organizing theme in another. For example, at the TPI/EC Palace sites, taking and wearing someone else's avatar (see avatar article) is akin to stealing their identity, while at non-TPI sites (e.g., servers purchased and run by individuals) it may be the game people love to play. Standards may be generally more restrictive in one community as compared to others. At the Welcome site, where new and often naive Palace users arrive for the first time, the rules about wearing inappropriately sexy avatars are much more strictly enforced than at the Mansion site, where the more experienced members hang out. Some critics have even suggested that the people at Mansion have become so desensitized and caught up in the "let people do their thing" philosophy that they don't see the smuttiness as an outsider would. Even though Palace is one client/server chat program, PalaceSpace consists of hundreds of different communities, each being culturally unique, each with its own values and standards.

Many Palace sites are privately owned. Some are commercial. This distinction can have an important impact on the deviance that is permitted. Some owners of private sites have strict policies about misbehaving users. Get out of line, and you quickly are booted from the community. The overseers of the site are more concerned about the congeniality and integrity of the community than about the rights or psyche of the ill-behaved user. At some commercially owned sites, there may be more leeway. The business depends on sales, so a "customer is always right" philosophy may lead to a greater tolerance of impoliteness and mischief. Booting someone from the site may be viewed as the measure of last resort. After all, snerts do buy, like anyone else. Of course, if they get too snertish, they may drive off other potential customers. So, ultimately, it's a delicate balancing act between maintaining a congenial community where strict rules weed out the snerts, and a "customer's always right" attitude that encourages sales. It's a business. It's a community. It's a business AND a community!

It's also important to remember that the large majority of chat communities are a leisure activity for most people - i.e., the community and all that is happening there is entertainment in the form of a recapitulation of the "real world." Deviant behavior may be a disruptive turnoff to some people, but for others it is part of the show.

The strategies for managing deviant behavior also can be classified according to the "technical" and "social" dimensions. At the Palace, software features such as the ability to mute, pin, kill, and gag were specifically designed to help members and wizards deal with annoying visitors. The more social interventions require interpersonal skills. How do you talk to a misbehaving adolescent, or an adult acting like one? That's the issue. In fact, the technical solutions alone are insufficient. Without a psychologically sophisticated person knowing when and how to use those tools, they may be applied inappropriately and thereby become just another form of abuse. What strategies are used - and how - will vary according to the culture.

(3)

Getting Known Through Anonymity

Much has been said lately about how anonymity on the internet "disinhibits" people. Feeling relatively safe with their real-world identity hidden, they say and do things they otherwise wouldn't normally say or do in "real life." In some cases, that seems to be a good thing. People may be more honest, open, generous, and helpful. In other cases, however, the nasty side of a person gets unleased. Hence the snert.

I'd like to give a slightly different spin to this "disinhibition through anonymity" concept. My basic premise is this: NO ONE WANTS TO BE COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS. No one wants to be totally invisible, with no name or identity or presence or interpersonal impact at all. Everyone wants and needs to express some aspect of who they are, to have others acknowledge and react to some aspect of their identity. In some cases, it's a benign feature of who you are. In some cases, not. Anonymity on the internet allows people to set aside some aspects of their identity in order to safely express others. Snerts need someone to react to and affirm their offensive behavior. This need is a bit different than simply catharting their frustrated drives, as the "eros-ridden" idea suggests. Snerts are trying to express some unresolved and warded-off feature of their troubled identity in an (often desperate) attempt to have it acknowledged. Unfortunately, they do it in a way that abuses other people. Under ideal conditions, they may be able to accept and work through those inner feelings and self-concepts that torture them. If not, they will continue to vent that ooze through their online snert identities, while safely dissociating it from their "real world" identity.

Does greater anonymity result in greater deviance? It's an interesting question. Because greater anonymity usually is associated with less accountability for one's actions, the answer would seem to be "yes." In the world of Palace, new users must register (pay) for the software before they can permanently acquire the ability to give themselves names and create custom avatars. Until then, their name is a number ("Guest 232") and their avatar a generic smiley face. The greater anonymity for guests does seem to result in their misbehaving more often than members. But members misbehave too. So there are other factors at work.

The higher prevalence of misbehavior among anonymous users may be more than just a "disinhibiting" effect. Rather than the anonymity simply "releasing" the nasty side of a person, the person may experience the anonymity - the lack of an identity - as toxic. Feeling frustrated about not being known or having a place in the group, the new user acts out that frustration in an antisocial manner. They need to feel that they have SOME kind of impact on others. It's not unlike the ignored child who starts acting "bad" in order to acquire attention from the parent, even if it's scolding and punishment. The squeakiest wheel. Humans, being humans, will almost always choose a connection to others over no connection at all, even if that connection is a negative one. Some snert guests may think (perhaps unconsciously) that their misbehavior is a justified retaliation against a community that they feel has stripped away their identity and alienated them. They reject because they feel rejected.

In rare cases, people who are well known in the community - even wizards and others of high status - may become the trouble-makers. Social psychology has demonstrated that people with power and status often have "idiosyncrasy credit" - they are given a bit more leeway in violating some of the less critical rules of the community. But they are not permitted to break the major rules - especially the rules that protect the integrity of the higher status group. For example, wizards may get away with wearing avatars that are not entirely appropriate, but giving the wizard password to an non-wizard cannot be forgiven. People are ousted from the wizard group for such offenses.








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