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The most worrisome Internet addicts? Workaholics

A study says that overachievers become so addicted to the Internet that they develop depression and isolation.

Does conquering make you stoop? Travis Fisher/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Everyone loves an overachiever. With the exception, perhaps, of overachievers.

It's hard to have such high expectations of yourself that they can never be met.

Guess what makes it worse? The Internet, apparently.

It seems that those who are committed to being the best at work cannot stop in their quest to gain an advantage. This means that they wake up in the middle of the night to check e-mails and experience increasing anxiety when Web access is denied to them.

These, at least, are the conclusions of a UK study that examined excessive use of the Internet. According to the Telegraph, the researchers thought they'd discover that the most internet addicted were the lonely, the unemployed, the forlorn, or those that can be all three -- the young.

Instead, they discovered that it is the successful and the driven that suffer.

Dr. Cristina Quinones-Garcia of Northampton Business School, co-author of the study, told the Telegraph that corporate organizations have twisted priorities.

She said: "Organizations seem to focus on the extent to which individuals lose working hours using the Internet for personal purposes. However, those individuals who work long hours and use technology to work outside office hours are overlooked mainly due to their success."

There's nothing more painful than being overlooked because of your success.

The researchers, though, believe that the Web is contributing to companies' stars burning out more quickly.

Quinones-Garcia puts it in such polite terms: "It could be that higher damage to the companies comes from over-achievers who are somehow encouraged to work long hours."

Somehow encouraged? That's a sweet way, some might imagine, to describe the manic obsession with often vacuous definitions of achievement embraced by quite a few corporations.

You will be worried that the subjects of this research were already so Internet-addicted that it must have been conducted online. Well, all the information I have is that 516 people were asked to fill out a questionnaire, rather than be examined by psychiatrists.

Still, the researchers insist that the highfliers with an unseemly level of internet use were at great risk of depression and isolation. The latter might feel a touch obvious if all these people are doing is gluing their faces to screens.

On the other hand, what are those driven to succeed supposed to do?

When we're all told that life, the universe and everything are occurring online, when the most successful companies employ 20 people and get normal people to do all the work, it creates a difficult working perspective for many.

There again, vinyl sales are the big success story in music. Perhaps this will be the first step toward a new, enlightened analog world.