An insidious addiction

Addiction is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

These days there are a multitude of addictive substances that are harmful to a person’s health, well-being and social life. Some of these are not only dangerous, but also highly illegal and must be purchased quietly from a back alley or shady apartment building. Others are absolutely legal and can be bought in almost any convenience store and gas station.

However, one of the most addictive substances known to man today, can be bought legally but only from certain stores. Unlike others, payment for this drug involves one large lump sum and then smaller payments each month to keep the high coming.

This drug comes in many shapes and sizes, it has many names, and more than likely you, that’s right, you are carrying it right now in your pocket.

I am, of course, talking about ... the smart phone.

Let’s re-address the definition of addiction again: First, ‘a compulsive need for and use of.’ Now many of us have worked our way up from a simple flip-phone or Nokia, the lowest grade of the drug and what got so many of us hooked.

They were simple, yet elegant. All of a sudden, a cordless world spread out before us. We could talk almost anywhere and while traveling. Then we were introduced to text messages: Simple messages could now be conveyed without an entire conversation. Before long, our phones took on other purposes entirely. The addition of a camera made it so we’d never need another disposable filling our pockets, and not long after that we could send the pictures we took to someone else with the aforementioned text function.

The steady rise in the advances in technology have made it so instead of carrying 30 things, we only need one. An average smart phone these days is a phone, camera, datebook, alarm clock, notepad, mp3 player, handheld gaming device, world map, calendar, clock and news service all rolled into one nifty little pocket-sized wonder tool. A veritable technological Swiss army knife (oh yea, I forgot to mention the built in compass).

So what else could we possibly need? Even social interaction is unnecessary when you have every single social networking site at your fingertips every second of the day.

Here are just a few images for you to consider. Have you ever seen four people sitting at a table in a restaurant, and every single one of them is on their phone? I have. They’ll sit like that for an hour, occasionally laughing in unison as one finds a funny cat video on YouTube and promptly shares it with their “friends.” Otherwise it’s silence and the tap-tap-tap of fingers on digital letters.

Another is three kids on skateboards, cruising down the street, each holding their phone and surfing the web as they’re skating the streets. Why even bother skating?

How about driving? We all know it’s illegal, but how many people do you know who will break the law because they have to send a quick message, or check their e-mail and they can’t wait five minutes to get to their destination? You know cocaine, heroin, and marijuana were all legal at one point? Well, car phones used to be a luxury. Now it’s a ticket and a few points off of your license.

So what about the tolerance and withdrawal symptoms? Well, I for one never felt the need to have a smart phone ... until I got one. Why would I ever need a weather app? I can just look out the window. Nope, I use it all of the time.

Not to mention kids. They’re second generation addicts. Brought into this world knowing nothing but the smart phone and all of its gizmos and gadgets. They’re practically emerging from the womb tweeting “This doctor is like totally weird... #coldhands!”

Withdrawal is by far the worst. I believe it’s safe to say we’ve all seen someone “freak out” when they lost their phone.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god ... that was like all my contacts and my pictures, how will people be able to text me and tell me what they thought of Glee last night?! How will I ever remember what my cat Snookums looks like while I’m away from the house for more than 10 minutes!?”

We’ve all seen it.

These smart phones are beautiful things, in my line of work. The map app and my calendar have saved my butt on a few occasions in the first few months I’ve had it alone. However, I take my phone with me everywhere; work, home, friends’ houses, and when it runs out of juice you know I sure as heck am scrambling through the house trying to find that darn charger so let’s call it what it is: Addiction.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some Zombies on my lawn and I must protect it with an array of Plants. #treatment

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunjulian.

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