Are you addicted to any of these: phone, Email, Facebook, TV, Twitter, video games? Odds are, you probably spend a few hours doing something on this list. Less than a hundred years ago none of these existed. That's not necessarily a bad thing, for the most part they're all brilliant inventions. They provide access to information, connection to people many timezones apart, and entertain our distracted minds. But like most rewards, it comes with a price. In this particular instance, addiction.
Most addictions are chemical imbalances occurring within our brains. For the above, dopamine is the offender. Small jolts of fulfillment, excitement, novelty, and satisfaction triggered by a new tweet, "like", text, or completed level. In other words, it feels good. So good, that our bodies crave the feeling once it's gone.
Is it harmful? Generally, no, though accidents happen. All our devices are vying for our finite attention. They prey on our weak moments (lines, stop lights, waiting to order). Blip by blip they satisfy our dopamine cravings, but what do we have to show for it?
Suppose for a moment that you aggregated all the time spent in front screens performing some combination of addicting activities and replaced it with watching Nyan Cat. Would there be any difference? Maybe for some of you. Perhaps you used your time to set up a date or watch an inspiring talk. Or, maybe you didn't. What if, what you thought was exciting, fulfilling, and satisfying really isn't much better than watching a dancing rainbow cat?
Im guilty, especially regarding my cellphone and Facebook. It's such a comforting feeling, checking in on these virtual worlds, that I barely resist. That said, I'm observing. I'm mindful of my usage, I feel myself crave, and when I notice the angst caused by resistance, it scares me. Relative to other drugs, these items are harmless to your body's overall performance. You might find yourself in worse shape, tired, even stressed, but the withdrawal symptoms of Twitter are comparatively mild.
My initiative is to continue "mindful usage". Time is precious. I want my time allocated to things like writing, creating, reading, exercising. I don't suppose I'll ever be completely free of these time-consuming drugs. And when used wisely, they can be extremely rewarding. Are you in control?
Hi, my name's Brian, and I'm a modern addict.