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Digital Intoxication

I asked a question.

No answer.

I asked it again.

Still no answer.

I waited a few more seconds and tried a third time.


My question was "are you ok?" which was asked because his face looked like he was in pain. Maybe I should have been a bit more understanding. After all, his face was blue. Not blue from lack of oxygen, but from the glow coming off his phone: you see, his face was fixated on it and he was not hearing a word I said. I have coined a new term for this: "digital intoxication". This occurs when a person is so fixated on his phone (whether it is a text, a response to a text, a facebook post, a game or some other distraction, it does not matter) that he tunes everything else out.

When a person becomes "digitally intoxicated" then there is no getting through to them because they have become "drunk" on the screen. In my house there is a rule about not interrupting others. Manners are expected so that we can show we care about one another. This is true of electronic devices as well -- if you are having a conversation with someone, then there is no (as in "N" and "O" -- no) giving attention to the phone without asking the other if he minds. The interruption is exactly the same as if a person rudely walked into the room and began talking over someone else's conversation. If we allow someone to do this, then it is like we are saying to the person we are speaking to "you do not matter, because I am more interested in whoever is trying to get my attention on the phone." Yup -- hard fast rule; it is a matter of simple common courtesy.

Has our culture somehow gotten blinded by this digital intoxication where it has now become ok to ignore someone you are in a conversation with in order to check whatever beep your phone is blasting out at you? The almost ubiquitous presence of "smart phones" has created a whole new slavery! We have become slaves to our machines, and when they "beep" we respond; when they say "jump" we say "how high?" If someone had predicted 50 years ago that one day people would obey their phones, people would have said he was crazy. What will break us of this servitude?


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