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Addicted to staying connected

  |  October 15, 2013

Look away now. Photo by Pawan Singh / The National
Look away now. Photo by Pawan Singh / The National

I am an addict but I refuse to seek help. This addiction has seen me through great joys and some deeply dark times. For years doctors have warned us of the detrimental health impacts of this addiction, from mental and psychological to the social consequences but I, like so many others, refuse to heed their advice.

My addiction is quite specific the mobile and internet connection on my smartphone. I need it and can't go more than 15 minutes without checking it.

I realised this a couple of days ago when my BlackBerry Z10 slipped out of my hands and landed on a carpeted floor. The shock for the delicate thing was substantial and the screen cracked. Most phones that endure a cracked screen will continue to work. Not the Z10, which loses all touch sensitivity once the damage is done. This meant I could not unlock the phone and with that, all access was denied. The flashing red light indicating unread emails, unanswered calls and Whatsapp messages became a source of immense frustration. Not only did I feel that my hands had been amputated, but my "real-time" contact with friends and family was lost. I felt lost.

It cost Dh650 to fix the screen, not exactly cheap when the phone itself retails at about Dh1,200. Annoyingly, most manufacturer warranties do not cover screen damage, but it had to be fixed and so I willingly, or rather eagerly, handed over the cash to become connected again.

There is no shortage of literature on our continued dependence on technology, but the reality only sinks in once you're cut off. The slightest bruise or cut [to cables] slows everything down to a near halt. Therein lies the danger. Individuals, businesses and entire economies have become so reliant not just on an internet connection, but smartphones and small devices that provide this real time connectivity in the palm of your hand, wherever, whenever. Remove that and you're left with people on a path to bewilderment and depression.

When submarine broadband cables are cut, companies lose out on millions of dollars in business. There is no opting out of the digital age, it is the reality and the future. Once you're connected, you become hooked, only those with strong will or no friends can opt out.

My name is Triska Hamid and I am addicted to staying connected, even when roaming (that's why I have a BlackBerry) and I guarantee that most people feel the same way.

thamid@thenational.ae

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