R U a U.S.E.R.?
This non-fiction feature article is about over “using” social media and questions our potential digital device addiction. In my feature writing course we were to find a writer whose work we admired and I chose Martha Beck. Aside from authoring several books, she also writes a feature column for the ‘O’ Magazine called How May We Help? Although we were not expected to model the writer of our choice (“find your own voice,” my instructor would say), I decided to take a ‘lighter’ angle, a la Martha Beck style. I love Beck’s off-the-wall, zany humour and attempted to model her ‘self-help’ approach. It was fun coming up with the four sections in my acronym title and then aiming to keep the article flowing logically. I enjoyed using the drug-inducing metaphor, along with diet and detoxing.
Hallucinogens, marijuana, cocaine, heroin—ah, but the joys and highs available. And then there are the milder fixes: sex, shopping, food, gambling, gaming, TV, alcohol, affairs, pornography, and, oh, did I already mention sex? Excess in anything that provides an initial euphoric feeling or that becomes obsessive can lead to a full-fledged addiction. Addiction. Scary, right? I can just hear you, “And I am so glad I don’t have one.” Well, considering the explosive use of the Internet over the last fifteen years and as more and more children become adept with tablets, smartphones, and other touchscreen devices, the future looks wired for addiction.
But just how much screen-time is too much, for anyone, at any age? Whether at work or at school, the irony of all this technological advancement, making our lives much easier, is that people are becoming overwhelmed and outright distracted. The term “digital detox” is being taken seriously as some people acknowledge their need to cope in this revolutionary age of hyper-connectivity and mobility. If none of this surprises you, and you have this niggling feeling, deep down, that may be cause for concern, following are four areas to examine while pondering the question: Are you a U.S.E.R.?
Feature Article written 03/2014