Internet Addict Dials 911 on Himself

By Bryan Le 04/01/13

After trying every other measure to get offline, a Chinese man asks to be locked up.

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22-year-old Mao was a danger to himself.
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After a number of failed attempts to subdue his raging internet addiction, 22-year-old Mao (pseudonym) resorted to emergency measures. After spending two solid days online at an internet cafe in Hangzhou, China, he called 110 (China's 911) on Thursday and asked the police to restrain him. “Lock me up for a few months,” Mao told the dispatcher. “I can't control myself.” Mao had battled internet addiction for some time. After losing his laptop, he had opted not to buy a new one; he hawked his smartphone and got himself an online-incapable Nokia; and he even took a job with long hours in hopes that he would be too exhausted to go online. The problem reportedly began with the online game QQ Racing back in 2009, which led to a fascination with online chatrooms. He says the social interaction gave him a “high” and he got hooked, racking up $4,800 in internet cafe fees and losing contact with his family. Authorities refused to put him behind bars, referring him instead to sessions with a mental health expert. Mao's battle puts him alongside a growing number of people in China to struggle with internet addiction, including a man who reportedly lived in an internet cafe for six years. The country recently launched an initiative to tackle the problem through early diagnosis and intervention.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter