Un nou tip de epidemie: adicția digitală

Cercetările științifice asupra comportamentului uman au adus date de o importanță fundamentală pentru a înțelege de ce facem ceea ce facem. În particular, de ce și cum ajungem dependenți de anumite lucruri. Totul pare OK. Doar că, interesele pur comerciale ajung uneori să folosească într-un cu totul alt scop ceea ce știința pune la dispoziția societății. De ex., la crearea de dependență de tot ce ține de jocuri pe computer și VR – Realitate Virtuală. „Irezistibil”, cum spune titlul cărții scrise de Adam Alter (AA), psiholog și profesor de marketing la Universitate din New York, care trage un serios semnal de alarmă: pericolul unui nou tip de epidemie – „adicția comportamentală”. O adicție digitală cum am ales eu să-i spun în titlu…

„Startul” său este ideea (pe care o lansează) că definiția adicției este prea …„restrictivă”. Și aceasta din două puncte de vedere:

Primul: privim adicția ca legată doar la droguri, alcool și nicotină, deși este evident că există oameni care pot deveni dependenți de tot felul de alte lucruri, de la jocuri video și rețele de socializare și chiar ochelarii Google pentru realitatea augmentată (gândiți-vă la nebunia Pokemon!). Dar, această „deraiere comportamentală” permanentă către satisfacții imediate și puternice poate avea consecințe distrugătoare și de lungă durată la nivel fizic, mental, social, ca să nu mai vorbim de cel financiar.

Al doilea: avem tendința de a considera adicția ca o problemă care afectează DOAR anumite persoane, în timp ce toți ceilalți sunt imuni. Se vorbește de ex. de „personalități adictive”, cele care au tendința de a deveni dependente. De fapt, oricine, în anumite condiții (care îi sunt specifice!) poate dezvolta o adicție, o dependență personală. Cei care trăiesc singuri nu se pot dezlipi de jocurile video care în ține conectați la restul lumii. Cei depresivi apelează la rețelele sociale, care le pot „dizolva” depresia în infinitul lor flux de informații. Accesezi un dispozitiv care de ex. îți numără zilnic pașii pe care îi faci și ajungi să te înveți apoi să … mergi mai departe oricare ar fi suferințele care te slăbesc. Și cum ultimele statistici arată că aproape jumătate din populația țărilor dezvoltate suferă de o formă de adicție compor-tamentală, AA ne atrage atenția că acest nou tip de adicție nu mai este „rezervat” unor (sub)grupuri sociale ci devine o problemă de masă. O epidemie!

Când a început de fapt această tendință pe cale să se generalizeze? Kimberly Young, psiholog care tratează dependența de internet la un spital în Pennsylvania: „De departe, cea mai mare schimbare a fost adusă de introducerea iPhone-ului și apoi a iPad-ului în 2010. Urmate de creșterea vitezei Internetului de la mijlocul anilor 2000”. Astfel, a existat și infrastructura și un nou vehicul pentru livrarea conținutului care a permis noi programe, mai ușor de testat și proiectat. Și care să fie vândute la nivel de masă!

Cum procedează cei care proiectează softurile și gadgeturile care ne aduc dependență? Adam Alter: La bază stă „testarea A/B” – se compară două versiuni (ale unui joc, de ex.) pentru a vedea care este mai performantă. Se lansează mai multe versiuni ale unui joc, se monitorizează cumpărătorii pentru a vedea cine rezistă mai mult înainte de a da „stop joc”. Se alege jocul cu cele mai îndelungate sesiuni și se produc versiuni și mai atractive – de fapt, mai adictive. Și, după suficiente jocuri se ajunge la produsul …căruia nu-i poți rezista. Pentru un timp, cel puțin.

Sigur, nu este greu de văzut că ne confruntăm cu situații care ridică probleme la nivel social și, implicit, politic.

După cum spune Adam Alter, implicațiile sunt uriașe. Adicția comportamentală poate distruge relațiile între prieteni sau parteneri, prin înlocuirea relațiilor directe cu versiunile online (mult mai sărace); poate deteriora starea de sănătate fie prin încurajarea lipsei de exerciții fizice (monitoarele sunt prea atractive) sau le exagerează (dispozitive de fitness acasă); poate duce la cheltuieli necontrolate pentru achiziții online. Iar când vom ajunge să avem fiecare ochelarii săi VR, câți vor mai rezista să nu înlocuiască banala, uneori dureroasa, alteori plicticoasa lume offline cu o lume online pe care ne-o facem cum vrem. Cum dorim.

În fine, mai ales pe măsură ce scade prețul VR și îi crește sofisticarea, apare necesitatea unei intervenții politice serioase în reglementarea „comportărilor dirijate de super-tehnologii”. Coreea și China, de ex., au luat în considerare un pachet de „legi Cenușăreasa” care interzic copiilor accesul la jocuri pe computer între orele 24 și 6. Un prim pas care probabil va trebui făcut și de alte Guverne. Altfel, consecințele psihice și fiziologice ale adicției digitale vor ajunge să afecteze o majoritate din ce în ce mai îngrijorătoare a populației lumii. În fond, teama cea mai mare când apare o epidemie majoră este să nu se transforme într-o pandemie. Pentru că atunci…

Prof. Dr. Andrei Dorobanțu

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