If you are reading this, then you probably have a problem - and perhaps one that you are not necessarily willing to admit. Most folks have heard of mainstream addictions such as alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling, sex, etc. From my understanding, an addiction is present when that activity adversely affects their life in such a way that their priorities begin to change dramatically. But there is a new addiction that appears to be full blown - online status. This online status is more than just social media outlets like facebook and twitter, but also the blogosphere (such as commenting on articles and forums) and gaming. I'm sure that there are several folks on Newsvine that are addicted to this website as well. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are clearly enabling the cause.
There once was a time not too long ago when having a pager indicated that you were cool (or a drug dealer). But having such a device was never vital to one's survival or well being. When cell phones initially came along, they were viewed mostly as a business related tool rather than a social one. As cell phones evolved, so did the desire for the masses to own one. Soon enough, society went from viewing folks with cell phones as the minority to now gasping at those that do not. In less than a year's time from now, we can replace "cell phones" in that prior statement to "smartphones" - and then eventually "tablets".
But just as each of these devices are bringing folks closer together via the world wide web, their hunger and lust for gaining such access has grown exponentially. So much so to the point where they feel like checking e-mails, updating status', and tweeting are required for them to function throughout the day. I even heard a poll that some folks would rather post their status online than have sex. Which to me, sounds conter-productive, as the whole point of posting such information is to make yourself look good to others so that you will have a better chance at getting some.
There have even been reports of where a mom was too busy making sure that she was socially connected that she forgot about her toddler in the bathtub:
In another report, a mom felt that she needed to tweet that her son drowned just after the indicident occurred - would not be surprised that she was tweeting while he was swimming - hence the drowning. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/17/shellie-ross-moms-tweets_n_395833.html
I recall back in the 1980's during the video game boom, many kids became addicted to them. Eventually, every kid had to have a video game console (some more than just one) - and would spend countless hours fighting dragons, shooting fireballs, and racing around. All the while, grades and socialization began to suffer. Kids would rather spend time in front of a television screen playing some fantasy game rather than going outside and playing with their friends. I see this pattern of behavior repeating today. For the older population, this addiction is also impacted their job performance and relationships.
As for me, my online addiction is playing scrabble. Earlier, I would play the actual board game with my wife and friends. Once the game became available online, I would play against other random folks around the globe. Once the game became available for mobile devices, I could play on the go. Quite often, my wife and I would spend a Saturday night playing scrabble against each other on our smartphones (but we would do while having a glass wine too). The game has even brought me closer to mom and other family members that leave far away, as we play against one another as well.
Despite my addiction, I refuse to let the game - or my smartphone - control my life. There have been times where I felt the urge to take my scrabble turn even while I was playing with my kids. However, I simply rationalized with myself and concluded that the other players can wait, as my kids are far more important to me than a silly little game. I still play scrabble while at work - just be sure to do so during my lunch break, on my own time.
After all, nobody is paying us to do this stuff (and nobody is going to die if we stop), so why should these acts be our top priority?