Hi, I'm Chris and I'm an addict

2012-02-20 07:26

Chris Moerdyk

We've heard about it from friends and family who have succumbed to alcoholism. We've seen it countless times on TV - that first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous where the new guy stands up an says; "Hi, I'm Fred and I'm an alcoholic."

The same thing happens with other forms of substance abuse; "Hi, I'm Joe and I'm an addict."

Now I have to admit that having managed successfully to avoid becoming an alcoholic or druggie, I have discovered that I  suffer from the world's newest and most all-consuming addiction. My smartphone.

No, don’t laugh, it's not funny. It is, in my opinion and experience, an addiction that can destroy marriages, destroy relationships and destroy lives.

It is an overwhelming desire to keeping checking your phone for text messages, e-mails and the latest stuff on Twitter and Facebook.

It is so addictive that a study in the UK released only a week or so ago, showed that texting has become so compulsive that a lot of teenagers and young adults have been found to be capable of texting in their sleep. Ridiculous? Not at all.

My particular addiction is Twitter and surfing the internet on my iPad.

I find I have stopped reading books in bed at night,  but rather checking out sites such as Zite on my iPad. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and automatically reaching for my Blackberry to see if there are any new e-mails, text massages and what's  happening in the world of Twitter.

I have fallen into the trap in which so many people find themselves these days - not being able to sit in a restaurant and just have a meal without constantly grabbing at my cellphone whenever the conversation stops for just a millisecond.

I do the same at meetings - surreptitiously checking out my phone under the table.

It is ridiculous and I am going to fight this addiction with a vengeance.

It's going to start with leaving my iPod and cellphone somewhere other than on my bedside table.

I am going to switch the damn thing off at meetings and when I am in a restaurant.

Hmm, hang on a sec, that won't do. What if there is an urgent call?

OK, so I will give my phone to whomever I am meeting with or the waiter in the restaurant and tell them to only give it to me if it rings.

Now, as you can see, I am getting sort of desperate in my desire to kick the addiction but not to be left too far from my phone.

I reckon I am not alone in this. I am not alone in kidding myself that because of my job I need to keep track of things. I am not alone in being frowned upon by my loved ones for communicating more with complete strangers than with my family.

I reckon I can do it. Because right now my addiction is irritating me more than those around  me.

So, let me start changing my ways right now.

"Hi, I'm, Chris and I'm an addict. I am also an arse."
- Follow Chris on Twitter.

Send your comments to Chris

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  • deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 07:55

    I can't remember the last time I've had a few drinks with friends without being utterly irritated at their constant focus change towards those dreadful little devices. Sure, I get it, I'm a huge fan of gadgets and technology myself but I've managed so far to ignore the urge to let it take over my life. I truly hope people realize this as you have.

      jason.dutoit - 2012-02-20 10:41

      when the conversation is engaging, nobody tries to do anything else! take the phone away and they will just phase out anyway. at least this way you know that you (or the situation) are boring!

      deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 11:06

      @droplet, it would be nice if it was that simple. The problem is that engaging conversation can only be generated if all parties involved are constantly evaluating the topic and thinking of new spin-offs etc. to keep things interesting. If someone is constantly using gaps in the flow of things as an excuse to focus on other things the onus rests almost completely on the other parties. It's bullcrap I say! Leave the bloody phone on a table somewhere and engage, fully. If someone cannot do that I'm more than happy to have them rather leave. Also, it's tough to get things back on tract once the subliminal realization hits you that they're not fully focused in a social arena. In short: it pisses me off and kills any motivation I had to be more "interesting" once someone does that.

      Sam - 2012-02-20 11:29

      Come on, droplet. Meeting with friends isn't supposed to be some sort of frenetic race to be more engaging than a damn cellphone. I think it's OBNOXIOUS if people I'm socializing with allow their phones to take priority. And what's more, I don't feel constrained to go out of my way to hide my irritation, either. It's plain bloody rude.

      Sharon - 2012-02-22 18:02

      My son tried to get me onto mixit a few years ago, it was a resounding failure, because my attention span is too short!! By the time he replied to a question, I'd already wandered off!

  • Vicky - 2012-02-20 08:03

    Constant attention to mobile devices in business and social activity is, quite apart from being terminally irritating, extremely rude. Is there such a thing as ettiquette around their use?

      deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 11:44

      Yes, I believe there does exist some ettiquette around this issue. It's called "common sense" and social/emotional IQ (EQ)... :P

      Gail - 2012-02-20 16:27

      Well if it exists my youngest son who speaks 7 languages hasn't heard of it. It drives me insane as I see him about once a year for possibly 9 days and I am lucky if I am able to have one hour of conversation during those 9 days as he is so popular that he brings friends and when they sleep he goes out to hook up with friends he has promised to see during "My" 9 days. Last time he came out we drove from Cape Town (3 of us) went to wonderful places but even in terrific restaurants he was texting and receiving texts etc. He wonders why I am unhappy and don't enjoy our time together. "WHAT TIME TOGETHER????"

  • roger.hitchcock - 2012-02-20 08:23

    This came up last week during a team building facilitation I ran - the challenge is going to be to learn a whole lot of coping mechanisms and develop new norms to handle the advent of "perpetual, ceaseless incessant communication"

      Sam - 2012-02-20 11:30

      Actually, it's dead simple. They all have an off button somewhere - use it, and you'll soon find out you won't die.

  • Claire Adams Adendorff - 2012-02-20 08:25

    Thats so funny cos my interneet is down, I have a 9h00 appointment and still need to shower (its now 8h23), but here I sit, checking Facebook on my phone, just in case I miss something interesting. Damn these things, I had so much more time before I had a phone / computer

  • Andile Oscar Mtshiselwa - 2012-02-20 08:45

    Hi Chris.You are not alone

  • MandyDbn - 2012-02-20 08:46

    Hi, my name is Mandy and I too am addicted to my smartphone.

  • deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 08:48

    The absolute WORST move is when you're in the middle of a conversation with someone and they casually start checking their BBM/Twitter/Whatsapp, or whatever... then, when you pause the discussion they pull out their patronizing little paw, point it in your direction and utter the words: "No, no, go on, I'm listening"... I always have to spend half of my energy to hide my blind rage when that happens. Imagining myself ripping that device from their hands and using it to beat their arrogant faces into a bloody pulp as I burst out in orgasmic laughter... Yes, it's THAT bad.

      Marc - 2012-02-20 08:59

      Brilliant Deon!! Perhaps maintain the genteel approach and politely relieve them of said device, place it on a surface and strike it sharply with a conveniently available light cabinetry hammer till it disintegrates, all the while apologising for the interruption. I would dine on that for years.

      Sam - 2012-02-20 11:32

      Hell, can I only identify with this! I wonder if cellphone rage would qualify as a mitigating circumstance if you're charged with assault.

      deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 11:48

      @Sam, I'll tell you once I fail the rage-containment test. Apparently tech-giants are working on technology that will display an LED overlay using contact lenses one day.... yes, godhelpusall. Now busting in their faces won't even be enough, you'll have to use a pencil for the eyes as well...

  • Ralph Higgo - 2012-02-20 08:49

    There is no 'we' in social media, only and 'i' and a 'me' @capetownphoto

  • clivecorbz - 2012-02-20 08:58

    You're addicted to Twitter? Get a real problem.

  • Michelle - 2012-02-20 09:35

    You are not the only one. My phone has gone in for a software update and this is day 5 without it. I am feeling lost.

  • Johan - 2012-02-20 10:32

    I've had similar problems and decided to downgrade to a 6110 Nokia with poliphonic ringtones and now only use the phone for calls. Works for me!

  • robert.lategan - 2012-02-20 10:39

    Technology has certainly changed our lives bringing us together - yet at the same time separating us from "real relationships". It is so easy to to confront someone via media than face to face. If I am out for dinner or at friends I will let the call go to voicemail. If it is important enough the person will leave a message - the same goes for when I am driving. Call me old fashioned - but there is nothing like sharing the moment with someone face to face and not be distracted by emails, texts and alike.

      Sam - 2012-02-20 11:33

      Yessss! ^5!

  • John - 2012-02-20 11:59

    I have an old Samsung something. Doné even know the model! Bout ten years old. Battery still lasts a week on a charge. It does all I need and it works for me. Now my wife's blackberry!!! THAT thing is another story!

  • Stephen - 2012-02-20 13:02

    When my email changed I did not re-programme my exisitng cell phone to recieve emails. Best thing I ever did. If an email is so important that it cannot wait, then best you call anyway. If the phone is off, leave a message.

  • Farieda - 2012-02-20 14:32


  • SarelJBotha - 2012-02-20 15:12

    I got really smart a long time ago. I gave up my phone and now my wife takes all my business phone call. it seems to work as she loves her phone.

  • Ami.Kapilevich - 2012-02-20 17:20


  • lhfick - 2012-02-20 18:59

    Chris Moerdyk you are not a addict. You have adapted to a word that keeps on changing. You are on par with technological changes, now we just have to get you on the green again! Kind Regards Lambert

      deon.fourie - 2012-02-20 20:58

      Agreed. Problem is that technology is changing at the speed of light compared to human social interaction, evolution etc. So lines inevitably need to be drawn somewhere.

  • Tshepo Ship Sekepe - 2012-02-20 23:18

    Use your computer to surf the internet (twitter and emails etc),surely you won't bring it to your restaurant table. Buy Nokia 3310, and your addiction will be over.

  • leanne.baatjies - 2012-02-21 14:20

    I heard somewhere they're developing an application that lets you check YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all in one go - apparently it will be called You-Twit-Face.

      takurian - 2012-02-21 17:04

      hahahahha. Sounds a bit rude when you say it out.

  • nmmchunu - 2012-02-24 13:11

    When you have a smart phone you can not help butbe an addict. In my case it's social media, even during lectures I am on my phone updating and checking what other people are saying. It's soo bad that I've had the lecture take my phone three times this year alone. I started as a habit where I would just browse through my phone, not because I was doing something specific and now its become an addicion.

  • Kimon - 2012-02-29 16:41

    My girlfriend is constantly on her phone, during movies, dinner and even in mid conversation!! it irritateds the cr@p out of me!!!

  • Pieter Janse van Rensburg - 2012-03-02 15:15

    I just quit smoking on monday. cant expect me to drop the phone as well!! There will always be an addiction of somekind

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