Drawing on a critical realist account of semiosis, she analyses the framing of internet addiction in China using the documentary film Web Junkie as an empirical pivot and point of departure. A contextual overview of relations, interests, and tensions surrounding youth and the internet in China is provided, and the film Web Junkie is briefly presented. The main body of the article consists of a critical analysis of conceptualisations of “reality” and “escape.” The core tension focused on in the analysis is the struggle over time, necessitating engagement with critical thought on hope and utopia. The analysis concludes that struggles over temporal autonomy underlie conflicting claims about “reality” and “escape” that are central to “internet addiction” and its treatment in China today.
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