Traditionally, this is how most mornings go for ‘normal’ people… wake up, yawn, stretch, brush your teeth, and prepare to start your day. But now, in this digital era, it has been altered just a bit. We have a new ritual… wake up, yawn, stretch, and check our Blackberry/ iPhone/ Android or other digital devices that sleep either in our hands, on our pillows, or by our sides.
Our loved ones hardly even get a first good morning kiss anymore. Our attachment to our phones and hi-tech gadgets are now our main concerns. Some of us probably go through withdrawal without them. I know I’ve turned back many times on my route to work to get my cell phone, because I left it at home. The day just won’t be the same without it.
Digital addiction is a new age paralytic disease. It is defined as having an addiction to digital devices and the Internet, with the same gravity as the likes of being addicted to alcohol and drugs. Now, if you think that waking to your BB is ‘normal’, and you’re not an addict, here are some other scenarios that totally deconstruct your denial of addiction.
When your cell phone bill is over 52 pages long, chances are you ARE experiencing digital addiction. If you now speak to everyone using lol, brb, smh, and any other acronym used to help conserve the 140 characters allowed in a message, chances are you ARE addicted. Be warned. These are just two examples of how addicted we are to the digital age.
All of this addiction makes you wonder, “How did we survive before?” Try to picture your life pre-digital era. Was it really ‘harder’? Was it so hard to leave the house without a cell phone attached to us? Though advanced technology has made our lives simpler, now with our lives literally in the palm of our hands (ability to bank, shop, communicate, dine), we feel as though there is no way we can survive without it.
By the way, I am listening to my iPod, checked both my Facebook and Twitter pages, read and answered five text messages, four Blackberry messages, received about ten e-mails… Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo to be exact, and answered one phone call, while writing this article. I pop my collar just knowing I am able to multitask this well.
Now, it’s as if we are no longer capable of being totally human without the aid of a digital device. Many of my friends have no shame in admitting their love affairs with their phones, and other tech devices. “Mine is grafted to me. It’s like a third hand”, is what one friend confessed. We are so attached that the Blackberry is now dubbed the Crackberry, and some us are at serious risk, for paying the fine (or even risking our lives on the road) for our addiction.
If you’re in the US, it costs you a $150 traffic violation ticket, if caught ‘using’ while driving, you could get possible jail time for any accidents caused while driving and operating your phone, and now, if convicted, it adds a whopping two points on your car insurance. In Trinidad and Tobago, it’s $1,500 if you’re caught using your phone without a hands-free setup. Let’s see how many people get caught, with this law being new. I’m sure there are people who are still chatting without a headset and texting/ BBMing, while driving.
If you haven’t noticed, the word telephone has now been hung up to dry from the dictionary. It comes to a point when you car talks back to you, that you have to wonder if we will ever truly be the same. Has technology taken us so far away from our humanistic elements that we don’t think we can survive?
One of the biggest fears is that it will replace physical interaction with each other. Think about it. There are some people you haven’t limed with in over a year, but do you miss them? Not when you’re talking to them on Facebook, Twitter and BBM. Somehow, it shortens time, and we don’t even realise how much we’re missing out on actual face time. Then there are the regular stories of people texting, tweeting, Facebooking, and BBMing away in parties/ fetes, instead of simply dancing the night away. I even read that in the UK, a poll by MyPhoneDeals.co.uks showed that 25 percent of people answer their phone during sex. You could imagine that?
No wonder recent surveys and reports are telling us about how grave our attachment to these devices is becoming, and not just when it comes to our social life. Reports claim that our addiction is damaging our brains, and decreasing our ability to remain attentive. You’re probably saying, it’s about convenience, and, no, your brain isn’t going to become less agile. But what about the younger ones? Do you think your ten-year-old daughter, son, niece, neighbour or cousin is going to grow up totally wired to all things digital? Rhetorical question, I think. If we’re addicted, I think they just won’t be able to live without it, when they get to our age, and, for some, that’s already started.
Some people might think that saying our brains are being damaged is exaggerating the issue, but there is cause for concern. With more social media outlets, and gadgets becoming more space aged, we are slowly losing touch with our traditional selves. We are more antisocial, cyber bullying has become a dangerous crime, and our privacy is constantly invaded and near extinction.
So we have to ask ourselves, how can we break away from the perils of the digital age? Can we be saved from addiction? I’ll be honest. Even if they did find a suggestion to beat digital addiction, it will have sickos like me who will stay in the fire. BB till I die!