Monday, March 13, 2017

Oh dear! Oh dear! I find that I am addicted!

I am reading a fascinating book by Adam Alter:  Irresistible: Why we can’t stop checking, scrolling, clicking and watching, about our obsession with our smartphones, our emails, our endless Twitter twittering and our fascination with Youtube. 

It makes for a sobering read, none more so than when we are told that leaving a very young child unsupervised in front of those children’s gadgets which transfix a child’s eyes for hours, but deprive it all too quickly of the ability to look people in the eye, actually damages their little brains.  Even something so harmless as talking to a child on Skype reduces the importance of eye-to-eye contact because the child cannot apparently pitch its eyes at the right level on the screen to evoke the kind of immediate response it looks for in the presence of another person.

Not being a two-year old, why did I come to the depressing conclusion that I, too, was addicted, but what to?  Of course it is to my emails, the only bit of electronic equipment I use.  I have, reluctantly, accepted the need for a Facebook account to pass on my blogs to a wider audience;   I can go for days without looking at it.  But I am, I now realise, hooked on checking to see if any new emails have arrived, so worried I apparently am with the need to answer them immediately, as though not doing so is impolite.

From reading this book I gather that this is a definite sign of an addiction.  I don’t have a smartphone so I can only check up on my emails when I am physically sitting in front of my computer, ready to tap away on a large keyboard with an old-fashioned mouse to hand.  Having now counted up how often I find myself returning to the computer when I am at home, and realising that my first action on coming back home is always to hurry to turn it back on again, I acknowledge that I do have as much a problem as if I had immediately to grab a glass of wine if I was a heavy drinker.  It may not be as harmful to my health as drinking too much, but it is probably as harmful to my peace of mind in its own way, because each email demands something of me, and often these demands are worrying or disturbing.  I am as much in thrall to this wretchedly addictive piece of equipment as anyone hooked to chatting endlessly on Twitter.

Of course, it is not only me, but all those countless others I see in the street or in cafes, their fingers twitching away at their smart phones, their eyes unable to look away to see the world around them, so busy are they scrolling up and down looking for God knows what.

I know that those emailing me can wait a few more hours or even a few more days for an answer from me, so I am resolved to watch myself now and reduce those compulsive excursions of mine to sit in front of the computer.  Let’s see whether I can manage this!

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