A timely report came out today about experts addressing what they now call "technology overload." I say timely, because it's close to Valentine's Day and you know, technology always gets blamed for making "WoW widows" out of some, or Crackberry addicts out of others. It's your typical "you might be an tech addict if you..." article that is careful not to label everyone as a "addict" per se, but instead resorts to language that suggests you might be too plugged in. John O'Neill, Director of Addiction Services at the Menninger Clinic in Houston, TX, says those who spend unhealthy amounts of time checking email, surfing the web, or texting on their phone are at risk of ruining their relationships with others. This obsessive behavior is now labeled as an addiction by psychologists, much like alcoholism, and drug abuse, because it's socially damaging to the person. Socially damaging indeed. One of the tell-tale signs of tech overload includes resorting to email or texting to avoid face-to-face interaction with others. But what else is an indication that you might be an addict:
- Spending more time tending to email or surfing the Web than with friends or family
- Inability to be without a cell phone, or computer for too long
- Paying more attention to gadgets than your surroundings (accidents happen this way)
What's funny is that no one can really say when technology overload becomes an addiction or if it's the same thing. I see these articles all the time, but are they talking about extreme cases like when parents neglect their kids to play video games or are they talking about the average Joe who happens to have a demanding job that requires him to check his Blackberry every minute.
I guess what upsets me is that these type of articles tend to be vague, and make us worry about nothing.
I can honestly say I've done all of the above, not because I'm addicted, but because it's convenient. I mean, who hasn't called or texted someone in the next room, because it was easier to do than getting off your chair. Do I spend too much time online? Sure, but that's part of my job. Have I listened to my iPod while I'm out running oblivious to my surroundings (ok, not safe but it happens)? Who hasn't. I think it's time the good Doctors came up with some concrete evidence or at least narrow their addiction labeling down just a little bit more.
It all kinda makes me wonder what they said in the past about people's obsession with records/CDs, television, or phone use. Should people who recognize that technology is now a huge part of our lives be labeled as tech addicts? What do you think?