Interaction with a device delivering data gives people a feeling of validation, inclusion and desirability. Feeling like the only person who isn’t getting e-mailed, buzzed, phoned and pinged can be a lonely feeling.
At least that is the theory in an article in last Sunday’s New York Times. We CrackBerry addicts know all about those Pavlovian responses to pings and vibrations. But the NYT article delves into the psychological underpinnings of our addictions to communication devices.
The article quote experts who study computer use and say the stated yearning to stay abreast of things may mask more visceral and powerful needs. Some of those experts theorize that constant use becomes ritualistic physical behavior, closely resembling addiction.
The brilliantly titled piece “It Don’t Mean a Thing If You Ain’t Got That Ping” goes on to point out that last week’s BlackBerry blackout didn’t affect behavior. People continued to check for e-mails and messages even though they knew the system wasn’t working.
One researcher uses the term “acquired attention deficit disorder” to describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it. Regardless of whether the stimulation is from the Internet, TV or a cellphone, the brain is hijacked in much the same way as a drug addict’s brain compels them to reach for their drugs.
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