The culture of the internet is one that is so new that modern cultural anthropologists cannot predict its evolution with any certainty. The impact on humanity that internet culture carries is enormous, but it is also very recent and there is much still to study about it. One tremendous consideration of internet culture is its implications for collective mental health. The way that the internet effects humanity’s social health and the individual’s mental health is concerning.
One indication of how internet culture effects us collectively is in an examination of how we moderate it. First of all, mental health experts do not know exactly how much time and energy is healthy to expend on the internet, but there is a range that is considered healthy. Society is struggling to fall within this healthy range. Internet addiction is an identified mental illness in modern psychology and many of us are offenders. Balancing time spent on the internet and the rest of life’s responsibilities has proven difficult for us, yet it is undeniable that limitless access to the internet is unhealthy. People are foregoing physical activity, in-person relationships and life responsibilities in order to be on the internet, proving that we are overvaluing the internet. This is a sign of mental disorder that could require mental illness treatment.
The health of internet communication is another major factor to contend with. Any type of communication between people falls somewhere on a spectrum between healthy and unhealthy. Examples of healthy communication would include honesty, respect, tolerance, courtesy and genuine interest. All too often on the internet, communication is found to be lacking these qualities, and is instead riddled with dishonesty, disrespect, intolerance, rudeness and a lack of interest in other’s perspectives. A detrimental breakdown of healthy communication is taking place within internet culture and is damaging the mental health of internet users.
Some may argue that the internet is merely a medium of expression for mental unhealthiness that would exist even without the internet, and there may be truth to that sentiment, but cultural anthropologists and psychologists have observed a correlation between the internet and society’s mental health which would indicate that they effect one another.