After reviewing the results from a poll in my Computers and Society course I found that a majority of my fellow classmates ruled that it would be either ‘Very Hard’ or ‘Hard’ to live without their laptop and phone for a week. In other words, nearly 80% of the class is unable to function without these minor simulated devices for one measly week – which when you look at it on the wide spectrum of a lifetime, it’s not that long! Upon further research, I discovered there is a legitimate disorder developing called Disconnectivity Anxiety for technology addicts. Dr. Jim Taylor, a psych professor at the University of Denver, describes this disorder as, “a persistent and unpleasant condition characterized by worry and unease caused by periods of technological disconnection from others”. Admittedly, I too am a culprit of this disgrace and suffer from digital dependency. My eyes are constantly fixated on my enslaving iPhone – but whose wouldn’t be when you have a whole other digital world in the palm of your hand?
Due to the development of a technology dependent trend during the current era, it is nearly impossible to survive without our innovative gadgets. It appears that in recent civilization, a day without technology feels like a decade to those who are reliant upon it. If you look around the world, we are surrounded by technology… we eat, sleep and breathe technology to a point that is unhealthy. I think it is safe to say modern society is addicted to technology and it is time for an intervention!
So… just how addicted to technology are we?
Ultimately, this question could have an exponential answer, so I chose to focus on three basic sources of technology used in everyday environments; Smartphones, computers and the Internet.
Set on Smartphones
Confession #1: Research conducted by Nokia suggests that Smartphone users check their phones every six and a half minutes, averaging to 150 times daily.
Staying connected has become an obsession for a majority of the world. The other day an elder family friend of ours was discussing his frustration with one of his teenage workers. He said every moment he has available (on the way to a job, on the way home, on his lunch and breaks), he was always on his phone and disconnected from the outside world. I guess I annoyed him a little when I told him that was the norm of the general public and he should adapt to these cultural changes, because he began to curse our generation. However, the reality is, it is not just the younger generation that has become digitally dependent; technology has spread like a virus to all members of society.
A study conducted by SecurEnvoy found that nearly two-thirds of our population suffers from a cell phone addiction called Nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia). Symptoms associated with this phobia are: constantly checking your phone, anxiety about losing it, and constantly having your phone on. Another international poll discovered that nearly 84% of North Americans are incapable to live a day without their Smartphone and many prefer to text than have a conversation in person.
Smartphones have changed the way our brain functions and how we act on a daily basis. Phrases such as, “It’s been an hour and Steven still hasn’t answered my iMessage”, or “Why didn’t you like my picture on Instagram yet?” and the famous “Andrew just opened my Snapchat and never responded”, have become way too familiar in modern society due to our constant connectivity in the Smartphone world. Options available on iMessage and Blackberry Messenger such as ‘Received’ or ‘Read’ have eliminated freedom and privacy on one end while causing insecurities and anxiety on the other. We need instant gratification and believe connecting with others via Smartphone will provide this for us, when it is apparent that it is creating a larger disconnect from the outside world.
Smartphones serve as a multifunctional device due to the high number of apps that are available to download. Smartphones have integrated themselves into our daily routine, from the alarm set to wake you up, the weather update to help plan your outfit, to the GPS that guides you to your appointment – we have aimlessly become dependent on our Smartphones. The following video speaks loud volumes itself on just how addicted to our Smartphones we have become:
Crazy for Computers
Confession #2: An 18 year old boy passed away in Taiwan a few weeks ago after playing a computer game for 40 hours.
A study performed by Nielson found that on average, people are on their screens for 8.5 hours a day. However, the use of computers is slowly declining as Smartphones and tablets begin to serve many of the same functions as a computer. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that a majority of occupations in North America require a computer, whether you are a student, work in an office or even on an airplane. Heck, I would be unable to complete my assignment for this course without the use of a computer. Computer systems run our lives in many aspects. We have become reliant on computers to store documents, run special programming, connect us to the internet, even to operate our vehicle systems. However, being addicted to the computer goes hand in hand with obsessing over the Internet.
Indulged in the Internet
Confession #3: A study commissioned by ComScore found that out of the 25.5 million Canadian Internet users, nearly 100% of them went online daily!
The Internet is an infinite dopamine loop; it is essentially limitless in terms of the information, connectivity and pleasure it provides us. It is the primary outlet of everything: communication, entertainment, education, business and productivity. It is the connection between computers, Smartphones, and tablets. I personally find it compelling because the Internet has the power to connect every individual on the planet. Currently, my one roommate is in Australia, while another is in Spain – the Internet has allowed me to stay connected with them, whether it is communicating via Skype, viewing their Instagram photos or checking their Twitter status updates (a.k.a. it’s hard not to be addicted when you’re connected!)
Nearly 80% of the North American population are Internet users. Due to the Internet’s convenience and high accessibility, we have become sucked into a digital realm where we yearn to be connected online. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is a fairly recent diagnosis that is a behavioural infatuation to the web. It has opened a door for further addictions such as online gambling, gaming sites or pornography. I personally find myself struggling with my online shopping addiction, why go to the mall when I can shop out of the comfort of my home, in my pj’s, with a glass of wine in hand?
The most recent innovation and obsession in our current era is the social media world. It has removed privacy from our lives completely. No doubt, if you have a Facebook account you also have a Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Pinterest account – and more social media sites are continuing to generate. What is the purpose? Why do we feel the need to be connected online on every aspect? The answer is clear to me… we are all addicted to technology.
…time for a Technology intervention?
Many would argue that technology addiction does not exist on the same level as alcohol or drugs, however, it is becoming increasingly more apparent that our era craves technology. Never before would you imagine that our world would become so profound to digital dependency. The need for digital devices has made society more vulnerable to reality – we are unable to adequately function without our connection to the digital world. Perhaps a digital detox is needed to restore our balance. However, in my opinion, a majority of us are too far invested in our addiction to technology that no solution to reverse its effects seems feasible.