I’ve had several goes at writing this blog, but kept getting bogged down with the debilitating effects that this insidious’ addiction (only recently ‘formally recognised by mental health professionals) – computer gaming – has had on my life through its hold on a precious family member. This person has been addicted for many years, since the age of 15 playing ‘World of Warcraft’. His constant choice to isolate himself from other people, then suffering from corporate stress as well, sees him extremely depressed and his life in a pretty desperate downward spiral. I am only thankful that he is not interested in drugs or alcohol and is now accepting and allowing other people into his life – mainly as he can no longer afford to live on his own and he is starting to recognise that he needs help!
It does concern me how easy it is to slip into ‘technology addiction’, as I am calling it, though recognise that the ‘definition of technology is science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools’- as per yourdictionary.com. It has become a problem for people of all ages, from the toddlers you see in prams with their parents phone or iPad, through to the old and isolated who have no ability to interact with others except for their computer and the Interweb thingy that their grandchildren helped set them up with (before walking away to get on with their own ‘Instalife’). It is far too easy to become entranced with the wonders of the (sticky) web.
I am someone who grew up without the invent of mobile, or even cordless telephones – if you could walk about a metre from the handset you were doing very well. It kept calls short, and as well, they were timed and charged, as well as listened to by other family members – keeping us safe from unscrupulous people). I remember the freedom of movement, and life, when you couldn’t be tracked, unless you’d called in at a friend’s house, or the neighbourhood stickybeak reported back that they’d seen you somewhere you possibly shouldn’t have been. I remember it, and still try to live this way. Unfortunately that cannot be said for many in the generations following me. I refuse to allow my phone to ‘know my location’. I’m sure if my body is found at the bottom of a cliff one day, they’ll still be able to track my final movements and who I spoke to prior to the fall/push.
What I fear for my children, and many others around me, is that they are so bound by electronic gadgets, entrapped by their lures and snares, that they never get to see the cliff, or the mountains, rivers and oceans. Never get to feel the fresh air on their faces and in their hair; or the salt air filling their lungs with the wonderful negative ions that relieve stress and anxiety. If they do, they have to ‘snap a selfie’ to prove that they were there.
Walk into the usually closed up, dimly lit bedroom of a teenager (often boys), and breathe in the stale, musty, sweaty body-odour, dirty dishes/empty pizza box scent that permeates the room, curtains, carpets and bedding. These young people can tell you so much about the world around them, international politics included (especially how the US Government and multinational corporations have total control over what/when/ and how much we in the rest of the world get to see and game with). Ask them to do a load of their dirty washing and hang it out on the line; cook a meal using fresh ingredients that can be picked from the garden (again outside the building) and they will look at you as if you are speaking a foreign language – accompanied by a total look of disdain. They ‘know’ everything thanks to Google, but when it comes to the practical application, many cannot transfer that knowledge into real-life.
I’m thinking our minds have been taken over by some alien power who will very soon be able to take complete control over our nations. Too many people are unable to function apart from their ‘smart’ phones / TVs / fridges/ houses, tablets, desktops, etc. When the power is shut down people will not be able to survive.
Depression and anxiety are at all time record levels with people struggling to hold down jobs as they can’t get out of bed (often because with their closed up rooms they can’t tell what time of day it is anyway). We are isolating ourselves as we don’t want to get hurt by others. Then when difficulties, or natural disasters come, we have no-one to call on for help, or to even just sit with and talk to to glean a different perspective on our real or perceived problems.
Self-discipline is non-existent; in our personal lives as well as in our interactions with others. The old saying, ‘Everything in moderation is good’ means nothing as people just do whatever they feel like doing, whenever they feel like doing it. Manners, etiquette or plain old consideration for others are long forgotten human attributes. We have come to relate to each other – extremely BADLY!
It is an epidemic that you can’t go anywhere without seeing people looking at a screen of some sort. Try to have a family dinner with natural conversation around the table, involving everyone – impossible. The kids (& even dad) are called repeatedly to come to the table, they reluctantly sit just long enough to scoff down what they recognise and approve on the plate, and then they scurry back to the safety of their screens. DO NOT even ASK, let alone expect that they will help clear the table and stand at the sink with you while you wash and dry the dishes – yes, that’s how things were cleaned before people started arguing over who stacked the dishwasher last! Many in the family wouldn’t know what cupboard to put the clean dishes in! I remember a time when lots of conversation and fun was had while washing up with mum or dad (albeit reluctantly); and then the flicking competition of the tea towels (walking away with red flick marks on my legs where my older brothers were always that bit quicker than me). That is part of my family memories that my kids sadly don’t have.
Sit in a restaurant and see how many couples or groups are sitting talking to each other, without a phone on the table! I say it is nigh on impossible to see that these days.
Is there any solution I ask? Any hope that there will actually be families of the future? I believe that if we lose the art of communication, we lose relationship.