So what exactly does it mean be addicted to something. Is it a personality flaw or a disease? Is it drinking way too many cups of coffee in the morning or trying to kick that ciggy habit.
So not too long ago I decided to reconnect myself with nature once again. So I went camping in the great wilderness to reacquaint myself with the wild frontier. You know, the forest, the rivers and the mountains.
So 90 minutes in this adventure I suddenly realized that there was no Internet access, what? Nothing at all. There was no smartphone usage when I wanted to catch up on the latest game scores. Then I wanted to connect with Google to find a quick fact, but nope, nothing.
So three hours in this date with mother nature, I was surprised how anxious as well as frustrated I was becoming. I eventually left my smartphone in the car just to stop myself from checking it every five minutes. I then suddenly realized that I was suffering from Web withdrawal.
So because of this bad experience, I’ decided to launch a new therapy group call Web Anonymous or WA for short. It will be about how to survive in a simpler lifestyle, a complete 15 step recovery program for self confessed Internetaholics.
Everyone loves and is conditioned to the convenience of this digital technology that we live in, and our lives are obviously a lot better because of it.
But my actual reaction of Web withdrawal made me a bit curious and concerned. So doing some quick search revealed that this is quite a common and chronic problem and I was not alone. We are all slowly but surely becoming digital junkies.
Going Internet Cold Turkey
The majority of people will get upset with no Internet or no smartphone, while others will get extremely scared and break out in a sweat if they can’t go online for even 24 hours. To others, completely giving up this Internet thing would be as tough as quitting smoking or even drinking, this by an actual survey.
A vast worldwide study of young people was conducted in over a dozen countries in Europe, North America, South America, Asia etc., were recently asked to completely unplug themselves from all forms of online media, just for 24 hours. So that’s no Web access, no cellphones, no video games, and those surveyed literally began to freak out.
Without any form of media, they felt extremely constrained, paralyzed, bored and alone. Some felt that everything that they are familiar with would be suddenly taken away from them, much like being in jail for a month.
Sure that kids will always tend to over dramatize and exaggerate issues to get attention, but given the broad scope of the survey as well as crossing various cultures, what’s amazing is that all the reactions were exactly the same.
So Who’s The Addict Now?
Addiction is common broad term that’s applied to almost everything these days. It’s easy to just lump any type of bad behavior that’s worse than a habit, and then label it an addiction.
But to most, online media is the new drug, and without access to it, most are completely lost. Is that the definition of addiction? How could anyone survive one complete day without it, in one form or another? There’s even documented cases of symptoms of actual physical withdrawal.
Kicking a habit, any habit, will usually take repetitive effort. So being addicted to digital also seems true. According to another survey, the majority of respondents admitted complete failure in their attempts to unplug themselves, even for a few hours.
If you’re out and about in the public these days, waiting for the train, taking public transit or at the airport, it’s a common sight to see almost everybody with their head buried, texting away on their smartphones. Are they scared that they will die of boredom it they just sit there stationary for a while?
Many of the younger generation now say that they couldn’t imagine what they would do to fill those hours if they didn’t have media. “I just don’t know what I would do with myself” is a common reply. Some even within just a few minutes of no digital media, one sole common word to express how they felt was:”I’m bored.”
It’s Google’s Intention
So what this results in is a generation of individuals with absolutely no attention spans, which is caused by spending too much time on their smartphones or the Web. All these studies and surveys point to one thing; That each and every text or click that we make breaks our concentration, it disrupts our attention spans. This is because we live in Google’s world and it’s in their best monetary interest that we continuously click as much and often as possible. The entire Internet is in the business of distraction.
But no, there’s no way I’m going to quit. No way I’m kicking this addiction and throwing my smartphone in the landfill, or cancelling my Internet connection, as the online world just offers way too much value. I also don’t care that much about those kids who are saturated by everything digital, as they will somehow find a way to survive.
It’s just like a generation prior to ours when our parents were convinced that our brains were rotting away because we were watching too much TV, the boob tube.
When Social Media sites such as Facebook or Twitter actually begins to take the place of actual face-to-face meetings, and we’re subject to write our life story in 140 characters or less, it’s time to sit back and take notice, wait a sec, I just got a text…