Addiction to non-stop connection

From what I have heard so far on topic of addiction it is heavily dependent on social context in which you grew up and live in. So, I would like to say that I am an exchange student from Czechia and thus my views, opinions and experience may differ a bit from yours. But that said, as I would like to say something about ‘social media’ addiction, I think it’s ‘tech’ topic which probably doesn’t differ much over the world.

As many studies have shown, person can become addicted on almost anything — opioids, alcohol, tabaco, over-eating and many other things. But newly arising most common addiction is becoming addiction on ‘connection’. What I mean by that is constant connection to anything — internet, looking at social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), games, surfing the web or just looking in to the pc monitor, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Luckily lately more and more people is starting to notice this problem and are addressing it.

Part of this problem is caused — maybe unintentionally — by tech companies because their ‘purpose of being’ is to have the biggest possible user base. How to do that? The most straight forward way, that offers itself, is to increase the time user spent on the site. And how to do this? Design the content that it schedules you into spending a little bit of time getting sucked into something that maybe you didn’t intend to get sucked into. It’s race for our attention but there’s only so much of it.

Years later addiction used to be “only” about alcohol, drugs, smoking and when you grow up in family/group of people that considers it normal or cool, you were more likely to become addicted too. But same goes for this “new” kind of addiction, only difference is that many of us don’t recognise it as a problem, not just for children but for all age groups. I think it’s because we as a society are starting to barely keep up with the technological progress. Our minds are just not used — or maybe build — to receive this amount of diverse information, often even not relevant to us. And lot of us receive this much information thanks to non-stop connection.

Way to address this “connection” addiction is to treat it as any other. And recent researches show that abstinence may not be the best solution. As with any other addiction the main problems are that the addicted person is losing touch with society — his family, friends, colleagues and other people and by ‘losing touch’ I mean physical contact like going out for a dinner, to see a movie, to visit someone, etc. He’s looked at as some kind of a freak and outsider. So, if we are in a position that we care about the addict and want to help him, one way — may not be the easiest — is to offer him our attention or compete for it. Show him that we care and help him get back in society so that he doesn’t have a reason to feel left out and to feel as an outsider.

From personal experience I can tell it is very easy to spend several hours a day in front of computer and not even noticed it as something bad or strange. When one doesn’t have real life social life the virtual offers him easy supplement with less effort. Only after I started college, met new people and got more new hobbies, I realized what I have missed out on.