‘PING’. Almost as if waking up from a deep sleep, the person that I am talking to looks at his shiny phone. With a big smile on his face he reads the words on the screen and chuckles quietly to himself. ‘Is my story boring?’, I think to myself. ‘Probably not. How the binary number system works is quite interesting,’ I try to convince myself.
A few moments later a second ‘PING’ reaches my eardrums, only with a slightly different tone. Again our conversation is interrupted because the person I am still talking to feels the need to grab something that looks like a writing block in a luxurious map. ‘Maybe he finds my story more interesting than I thought and he wants to write some things down.’ A large iPad-like thing appears and from the corner of my eye I see that Outlook is being launched. ‘Just checking my mail real quick,’ he offers. In my thoughts I frown, but in reality I smile politely. This is new for me and I might just have to get used to it. ‘What kind of gadget is that?’ I ask him. ‘This is an iPad. Sorry. I need to make a call real quick,’ and the person leaves.
Confused, I stare at the wall. I feel almost as when I woke up from my knee surgery. How dare he? Did he lose his mind? Does he not have a sense of respect? Intrigued, I go off in search of answers. What just happened?
Back at my desk I see a newspaper on the desk of the person sitting in front of me. I take some time to read through the paper after my lunch break was cut short. An article catches my eye with the title: Drug addicts shamelessly search for their kick. Since the behavior of my colleague seemed shameless to me, I make a link between his actions and the habits of drug addicts.
I am shocked by my thoughts. How can I compare the habits of drug addicts to the actions of the person that I was talking to? Disgusted by the idea I try to delve deeper into the connection, hoping to dismiss it as a merely flimsy comparison. In the dictionary, I therefore, look up the definition of an addict: Physically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance.
The above story is fiction, but most people do recognize it. When I, myself, was one of the first people with mobile internet I showed panicky and paranoid behavior whenever the server was down. I sat in my car and walked down the street cursing at the server for not allowing me to check my mail or update my social networks. It was as if the world was ending, especially when I lost my phone. I moved heaven and earth in an attempt to get my phone back and was distraught when after a week I still had not found it. I woke up, sometimes fearfully, grabbing at the spot where my phone usually was. During the day I asked friends and colleagues if I could log on their phone real quick.
It was almost like I was an IT and communication junkie. Signs of addiction are: excessive use of IT; obsessive checking of e-mail; a fixation on the mobile gadget to the point that everything else in your environment becomes irrelevant, including the stress, which is ignored. I had it all. An IT addiction can be just as damaging for the mental health as a drug or alcohol addiction.
After reading this text you also have a choice – A choice to not go down this path and the downward spiral that comes with it, or a choice to stay ‘clean’ or to join the hype. If so, I welcome you to the wonderful world of mobile addiction.
The choice is yours….