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If You Know What ‘Brainrot’ Means, You Might Already Have It

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the concept of "brainrot", a term that refers to the condition of being overly immersed in and influenced by internet culture and content. It explores how this phenomenon is manifesting, its potential causes, and how it is being viewed and addressed.

🙋 Q&A

[01] What is "brainrot"?

  • "Brainrot" refers to the condition of being terminally online, where one's speech and behavior become heavily influenced by internet references, memes, and niche online content.
  • It is seen as a negative condition, where someone has become so immersed in the online world that they struggle to function in the physical world.
  • The term is meant to be playful, but it also reflects a growing recognition of a disorder called "Problematic Interactive Media Use" by researchers.

[02] How is "brainrot" being portrayed and discussed online?

  • There are social media accounts and videos that parody people exhibiting "brainrot" by stringing together rapid-fire internet references and slang.
  • Some people even seem to take pride in admitting to having "brainrot", seeing it as a badge of honor, and competing with others over who spends the most time online.
  • However, experts view this as a coping mechanism for underlying issues, rather than a true "addiction" to the internet.

[03] What are the potential causes and impacts of "brainrot"?

  • Experts suggest that "brainrot" can stem from conditions like ADHD, where people find more mastery and self-soothing in the online world compared to the physical world.
  • The constant consumption of low-value internet content is seen as the primary driver of "brainrot", leading to a warping of one's perception and ability to function in the real world.
  • Treating "brainrot" is not about completely banning technology, but rather developing healthier online habits and addressing any underlying mental health issues.

[04] How are experts and institutions approaching the issue of "brainrot"?

  • The Boston Children's Digital Wellness Lab is taking a more nuanced approach, trying to reframe the debate from "good vs. bad" to "healthy vs. less healthy" when it comes to internet and phone usage.
  • The Newport Institute, a mental health treatment center, is taking a more punitive approach by recruiting people suffering from "screen dependency" and "digital addiction".
  • Experts emphasize the need to help parents and children develop better online habits, rather than simply villainizing technology.
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