The internet can be one enormous escape hatch. When life becomes too hard and stressful, when relationships become too unfulfilling or unsatisfactory, it's compelling to jump down the rabbit hole of the internet into a world of virtuality. Do you understand it isn't totally real? Yes. But compared to how bad real life feels at the moment, you'll take a virtual life anyway, thank you very much. Considering the amount of personal control you have over this almost-real world compared to the lack of control felt in the real one, its tempting to consider virtual an acceptable trade-off.
Escape hatches can be important things. If your way is blocked out of a dangerous situation, an escape hatch can save your life. Escape hatches, though, are meant to be used sparingly and only at great need. Generally they're not the ideal way to make an exit.
If the internet has become a personal escape hatch from life as you know it, I'd encourage you to think about why that is. When you use the hatch, what are you escaping from? How effective is it, if you have to keep using it again and again? When you use it, where do you end up? Are you more interested in running away from something than you are in arriving somewhere else?
Using an online escape hatch doesn't only mean immersing yourself in games, although that's certainly a compelling avenue to take. Creating an alternative reality isn't just for those with avatars in virtual worlds. Living a virtual life is possible while going about your day job. Living a virtual life happens when you start to put more value in the experiences you create online than the ones encountered in real life. Living a virtual life happens when you step out of the truth of your life and begin to create a false life online.
The above is excerpted from chapter 12 in #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.