Do you spend more than 4h a day on screens outside your work?
Do you check notifications on your phone within 15 minutes of waking up?
Do you find your smartphone more important than your wallet?
Do you find it painful to read a book from cover to cover?
Do you go online sometimes to check out something and end up doing something completely different?
Do you often cancel/postpone seeing your friends?
Do you find it difficult to focus on one thing alone?
Do you often feel pang of conscience for not being informed enough?
Has communication in your family become difficult?
Do you often feel fatigue and a lack of enthusiasm?
Do you avoid physical exercise?
If your answer to majority of questions is positive, you have the internet addiction condition.
As the Americans prefer to say condition to disease.
I deliberately refrain from using the term disease or disorder, since the Internet addiction is more like a rule than an exception nowadays. When you say condition, people are more willing to accept it and to treat it.
For something to be classified as a disease, it should deviate to large extent from the average or normal behaviour. Presently, the use of technology and digital devices is something like tooth-brushing - a standard of great majority.
As you are probably aware, if you have read any of my previous posts, I do not advocate reversal of technological progress and scientific breakthroughs that facilitated pretty comfortable and convenient lifestyle to many. I am just suggesting a reasonable and controlled use instead.
The first step is to face yourself and your condition and to be completely honest. I'll go first. I admit - I am addicted to the internet, media and electronic devices.
I would have probably replied positively to most of the questions above only a couple of months ago. Now maybe half of them. Next year I hope it would be even less.
The second step is to eschew the pang of conscience due to the vice we have succumbed to.
I am not saying this to give you lectures and instill the sense of guilt in you. You have it all too much already, everybody's trying to put a cross on your shoulders.
I do use tech, I do exaggerate, I know that. But I am not the one to blame. They gave us these crappy gadgets and free wi-fi and a whole new world opened up before our eyes. We are not guilty of being forced to use it.
But we are responsible for the way we do it and for the consequences of these actions. We'll deal with that responsibility later...
To cut the long story short, let's see how I experienced "the enlightenment" and what I have done afterwards.
A couple of months ago, as I was commuting from my work, I grabbed my cell phone to kill some time in the city transport, during a long ride home.
A viber message from my best man, asking me when we can meet. Just as I was getting ready to respond in a manner "one day after Monday", I noticed Facebook notifications buzzing.
It occurred to me that it must be the reactions to my latest post I published and I opened the FB app without further ado. There are many notifications under the bell icon waiting for my attention. Among others, a missed birthday from yesterday. Guess whose - my best man's birthday!!!
I am going back to viber instantly, starting to type "hey pal, sorry, I forgot to send you a birthday note yesterday"... but then I stopped. I suddenly realized it would be more appropriate to make a regular phone call once I arrive home. Since I have forgotten to send him best wishes, it was inconvenient to send him a viber message. It's my best man after all.
True, we haven't spoken on the phone for a long time, although we see each other regularly. I am not sure any more if he will recognize my voice.
Ok, I make a mental note to call my best man... Life goes on, let's see what else is in store for me. An SMS from my wife. How extraordinary!
Goddamit, that's dangerous - SMS instead of viber! It means she wants to make sure I will get the message. She wants to prevent lame excuses that the 4G signal was poor or that I ran into a tunnel or some other convenient viber-dodging reason.
A shopping list.... it's good, I thought it was something nastier.
A typical afternoon haiku: bread, yogurt, milk, fruits, salami, soap and panty liners. Where have all the good times gone when those messages were full of exotic spices, adjectives and verbs. Savings measures apply to emotions as well, obviously.
Anyway, as I was coming home with all those supermarket plastic bags (while they were still free) I found my wife and son sprawled on the couch, with their respective e-buddies in their hands.
My wife with her phone, my son with his tablet, their faces changing colours in keeping with the colours flashing from their screens. Blue, white, green, as if they were employed with Keeplight. I am lucky for not having to pay the lighting fee like municipal authorities.
They haven't even noticed me entering, just a meek "hello" without even turning their eyes from their screens. Thieves have their job made easier now - they can rob your house while your family is convinced that it was you all the time looking for socks in the house.
I cannot blame them, when I am the same, like a zombie. Post a negative rating in comments if you have never behaved like that.
Just as I was preparing to withdraw to the bathroom respectfully, a brief click and there goes the power. Man, what was that? I didn't even realize that my juvenile son knew so many swear words. It's the end of the world, now what?
Screens still flicker in the dark, so it's not a big deal, we won't get injured. No one keeps candles any more, what's the use when you have light show in the house, at least for an hour before batteries drain out.
But what are we going to do without the internet?! Is there life after death...of a router?!
Foul language and swearing could still be heard in the semi-darkness, but once the external enemy had been defamed, we were left alone. Mutual accusations and quarrels ensued.
Suddenly, we all get to notice each other, which is good. It doesn't matter that it is getting hard to control the verbal fight - I scream therefore I exist!
So, over the following two hours the brawl slowly gave way to a casual talk. And we discovered a lot of things about each other, a whole new world emerged. As if I got to know my closest family in a new light.
Once the power got back, everything returned to normal. Needless to say, I was under the pressure to restart the router, TV was switched on in the meantime already...business as usual.
But on that day, we made some important decisions. The type of decisions made and the way they affected our lives are described in detail in this post…