Marty Silbernik is the author of I’m Too Old To Do This, a tech blog for folks who remember when none of this stuff existed. This article appears with permission.
I was watching the local news the other day and a headline came on and said “Are we addicted to technology”. My first inclination was no, we weren’t. Tech is a tool — a tool that we use daily.
But then I spent a few minutes thinking about it. In the last several days I’ve seen a few things… First, there was a news report about how texting while walking was as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting while driving. Personally I think that you can do a lot more damage texting while driving than you can while walking.
But the report showed folks walking through a downtown area, looking down at their smartphones, texting and not paying attention to where they were walking or the streets that they were crossing. People kept knocking into each other… people nearly got hit by cars while walking across an intersection. It was dangerous behavior, that could lead to serious injury.
But, it wasn’t just walking down the street. I’ve posted this video before, but it’s worth repeating here…
Another report that I saw showed a family, at home, each with their respective devices (a combination of phones, tablets and laptops) surfing, playing or reading (not sure what they were doing) all while the TV was on.
And then there’s the folks who have their phone go off for every single email, text, tweet and Facebook post that comes in. Nothing more disturbing that trying to have a nice dinner or visit with friends when suddenly that ding sounds and sounds and sounds and the phone gets pulled out and looked at. Now, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this when it comes to text messages, but there are folks that have their devices go off for anything and everything. I won’t even go into Facebook or Twitter — we all know folks addicted to that!
Then there’s the games… Words with Friends… Candy Crush… Angry Birds… games that we get addicted to… and yes, it’s an addiction. When I was playing Candy Crush, I would dream of those damn candies dropping and it would wake me up at night. Game addiction is so bad that recently the author of a game named Flappy Birds asked to have his game removed from the app store and Google Play since people became addicted to the game, wasting both their time and his time.
Phones were being sold online, and charging a premium because they had Flappy Birds installed on them. Folks figured that if you couldn’t get the game any longer, a phone with it installed was worth a lot more. I just read that the Google Play store will no longer allow any games with the word “Flappy” in the title – that’s how bad the “addiction” got.
Now those of you that know me know I no longer play Words with Friends, Candy Crush or any of the other addicting games I used to play. I’m also making a personal vow to put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” when I want some private time, or if I’m trying to enjoy the company of friends and family. So, if I don’t answer my email or text within 5 seconds (as we all know everyone is expected to do) don’t keep sending it. I may just be in my private time.
Now,I know that I’ll forget to change the setting sometimes, but I also know that we all need to break some of the dependence, and yes, addiction, we have on our devices and just have some private time to enjoy real life as opposed to the virtual lives that many people don’t even know they’re living today.
It’s not easy, but as a former Words and Candy Crush addict, I’m here to tell you, it can be done.