Are you finding yourself spending more and more time on your laptop, tablet or smartphone?
An article in the Evening Standard newspaper recently addressed the growing trend in Londoners becoming addicted to the the internet. Ten’s of thousands of us are “hooked on web porn and games” – to name but a few of the internet-based activities people partake in.
London is a busy place and as a result, we need some downtime to distress after our busy day. We spend so much of our working life on some kind of technological platform at work, that it seems only natural to continue using technology when we finish.
I can hear many of you say, ‘well what’s the problem with using my phone to distress after a long day at work?’
Unlike reading a book or a newspaper, the apps on our smartphones and on the internet are laced with addictive mechanics that keep us coming back again and again.
You didn’t lose that game of Candy Crush because you picked the yellow candy chain over the purple one, but because the game mechanics did not want you to continue.
Forget for a moment apps with addictive game mechanics built in; how about phone calls and text messages?
Do you find yourself checking and rechecking your phone for messages even when on the tube with no signal? You do that because you have no one watching you, checking up on you or judging you.
It’s your virtual world in which you can do and be whoever you want, with no consequences. It slowly becomes easier and more comfortable to live within the medium of the virtual world rather than the physical one.
Mirrored by comments in the article by the Psychiatrist Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones who states:
“We see people who prefer their virtual life to daily reality, who can arrive extremely obese and haven’t moved for weeks, or I have seen people who are extremely thin and malnourished.”
The ease of the virtual world becomes all consuming. We don’t need to impress the opposite sex because there is pornography to suit any taste. We can feel powerful by humiliating someone on Twitter or levelling up on World of Warcraft. Our virtual identities become more important than our physical ones.
This is not isolated to London, but is happening up and down the country. When one worried mother contacted the psychologist she stated “When I contacted Henrietta she said I was the fifth person that week.”
With the London lifestyle so fast paced, competitive and stressful it does not surprise me that we seek a quick technology fix to quell our anxiety.
Just like drugs (legal and illegal) we must learn to notice when we are in control of it or whether it is in control of us.