1. When at home, your laptop is open at all times (even when you don’t need it). You’re losing the battle against internet addiciton extra hard if you actually carry your laptop with you when you move into different rooms. For example, if you habitually bring your laptop into the kitchen and set it on the kitchen counter when you’re cooking yourself dinner. Of course, the laptop, at that moment, really serves no clear purpose whatsoever other than to allow you to repeatedly glance at it to see if someone’s replied to you on Twitter or if your Facebook newsfeed has been updated with even halfway relevant information, but such is the nature of addiction. The point is, you know you’re losing the battle when your laptop remains open and close by for no clear purpose while you engage in activities entirely separate from and unrelated to the internet.
2. When away from the computer, you uncontrollably think in text-speak. You may be losing the battle against internet addiction if for example you find yourself walking along a crowded city sidewalk or socializing among a group of beautiful fun people and something happens which you perceive as awe-inspiring or at least somewhat interesting and before you even realize what you’re thinking something goes “OMG” in your head (not “Oh my god” but like O-M-G). Bonus points if you accidentally say a chat acronym aloud, for example, when out to dinner when your date says something genuinely funny, you accidentally but enthusiastically exclaim “LOL.” Also: congratulations on making your potential hook-up question your sanity.
3. You’ve detected that you might prefer porn over real sex. Somehow your life has come into such distorted disarray that you realize one night you actually prefer masturbating to internet pornography over the process of driving yourself over to your non-committal partner’s house and having sex with them. If you’re showing this sign, you’re definitely losing the battle against internet addiction.
4. You’re always on the lookout for excuses to use the Internet. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you always find an excuse to check out what the internet has to say. Common behaviors this symptom elicits are randomly picking out facts to check in a group conversation by quickly navigating to some Wikipedia entry and confirming or denying an assumption that had previously gone unquestioned, or pulling out your smartphone to quickly check the Rotten Tomatoes rating of a movie that recently came up in conversation, just because you’re slightly curious about what the internet has to say about it. Bonus points if you use this excuse to segue into compulsive checking of your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
5. When in social settings, you spend an equal amount of time on your smartphone, IMing with someone on the internet as you do socializing with real people. If the internet is a drug, your smartphone is a gateway. If you’re losing the battle against internet addiction, you’ll likely find yourself feeling way more interested in the 5 IM conversations you’ve been having with a rotating clique of people you interface with solely on the internet since you purchased your smartphone than what’s going on in physical reality, right in front of you.
6. When away from your computer, you perceive things not only in real time, but how they will be represented on your blog, Facebook pictures, status updates, tweets, IM conversations, and emails. You may be losing the battle against your ever-pervasive internet addiction if you catalog situations into tweets and status updates as they happen in real-time. In other words, you create and save memories (“jesus this dude at the coffee shop fucking stinks. i love new york city!”) that can be tweeted and Facebook status updated later. Extreme variations of this symptom include excessive photography of social events and subsequent, immediate uploading/tagging of photos to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
7. When away from the computer, you find yourself formulating rebuttals to completely asinine arguments you’ve gotten yourself into with anonymous internet users on the blogosphere or random, niche-interest messageboards. Self-explanatory.
8. You’ve purchased a smartphone. While smartphones themselves are an intrinsically benign technology, they are often used to satisfy unhealthy cravings for social networking, pointless instant messaging, useless Wikipedia mining, and constant distraction. You know your smartphone’s helping you lose the fight against internet addiction when you’re interfacing with it even as you’ve gotten up from your laptop, walked to the bathroom and are taking a shit; alternatively, when you notice that on a certain level you’re thinking about your smartphone so much that you’re unconsciously ‘waiting’ or in anticipation of the next time it vibrates or makes a sound indicating that something has happened – ‘in’ your smartphone – that you need to know about immediately.
9. You lose entire days in internet tunnels, unable to remember what occurred that day afterward. Harmless forays into Wikipedia, YouTube or other websites with predominantly user-generated content unexpectedly morph into hazy stretches of time about which you don’t know much, but instead can only remember a manic sort of tangential pattern of clicking and consuming. Internet tunnels are the culprit of such symptomology, whose content is typically of a more ‘basic’ vein, i.e. funny, cute, sex, gore, creepypasta, memes, etc.
10. You ‘feel’ the internet ‘calling.’ When away from the internet, say at the grocery store or in line at Chipotle on your lunch break from an office job that requires you to be on the internet 8-10 hours a day, you actually experience consistent twinges of visceral longing to check your email, kind of like if you checked it you’d feel normal again, or satiated in some way. Some could argue that this is why people have smartphones, but if you don’t, as you get literally closer to your laptop, the call of the internet is that much stronger and harder to resist. As you get closer still you find yourself almost running to the machine.
Other signs you’re losing the battle against internet addiction: Becoming unreasonably agitated when the internet is slow or when a page won’t load, responding to tweets and emails but ignoring text messages and voicemails, boycotting establishments that don’t have wifi, mass following every element of someone’s social media presence after making only slight acquaintance with them.