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Confession of a Tech Addict} ?> To most, “addict” is a term defined by drug or alcohol abuse, substances that can destroy physical health and break down relationships.
When I think of addiction, my mind goes to Frodo Baggins and Gollum. Both characters experience a physical pain and a mental anguish when they are separated from the Ring for any period of time. They undergo physical transformation the longer they are in contact with the Ring and their relationships with other people are damaged because of their desire for it. Gollum killed his cousin for possession of the Ring, and will stop at nothing to get it back from Frodo. Even Frodo, who shows extraordinary resistance to its powers, is affected as the journey goes on. When he’s separated from it, he lashes out at Sam for doing nothing more than keeping it safe.
My addiction, however, is not so obvious. I can relate more to Gregory House from the TV series House. House’s addiction is to the pain killer Vicodin. On its own, there is nothing inherently evil about that particular drug. Vicodin actually serves a very important and good purpose for House. Due to a physical injury to his leg, he lives in constant pain. Vicodin takes away the pain and makes it possible for him to focus on the complex diagnostic puzzles of his patients.
But House begins to rely on the drug for other reasons. It becomes more than simply a way to relieve pain or even a way to escape. It’s a soother of his misery and a way to occupy himself when he gets bored. Something that served a purpose for good becomes destructive as House’s relationships with Wilson, Cuddy, and his team are damaged, fractured, or destroyed because of his addiction.
My addiction stems from technology, something that isn’t harmful in itself. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and other similar technological ventures are, in many ways, good things. In fact, I’ve used them extensively to build a network of like-minded individuals to create internet content for promoting good, peace, and justice.
But my habits with technology became self-destructive when I started “using” when I shouldn’t have been. I found myself returning, more and more, to internet venues to check “one more thing” and to “stay in touch” with people. Time when I should have been spending with friends and family were spent on my smartphone, checking a Facebook status to see how many likes it got or viewing traffic stats on my blog. I would get a bit of a rush when I’d see a particular article “explode” with views. I was doing this stuff even while sitting in the pew at church when I should have been paying attention to the sermon. I was doing it at work when I was supposed to be focused on job tasks. And that is where I ended up like House, face down in my own virtual vomit; I lost my job because I could not control my appetite for attention.
My addiction is probably not unusual in this technological age. How many people spend most of their time with phone in hand, ignoring the people they are with? How many stay up late at night trying to get their character to the next level in World of Warcraft? How many spend their lunch breaks checking Facebook? Technology, gaming, and social media are not intrinsically evil. But when the tech starts taking away time and energy from those things in life that should get the highest priority, they can become a problem.
I am in recovery now. I have gone “cold turkey” over the last few months. It is not an easy thing. This is where I must persevere. It is easy to slide back into old patterns, to get that “high” again from some sort of technological source. I must be diligent and work through these things. And I can’t do it alone; I have friends, family, and loved ones supporting me, keeping me sane.
The struggle is real. If you experience it, know that you are not alone. Addiction comes in all forms and it can take over your life. Confessing that “I am a tech addict” was the beginning of a long, difficult journey that isn’t over yet, that maybe never will be. But I persevere because I want to be a proper dad to my kids, a loving husband to my wife, a thoughtful comrade to my friends, a humble servant to my God. I strive for change because I will never be healed if I don’t reach out.
This article is my testimony. If you are in the same place I am or if you see yourself heading that way, you may find confession can begin a process of overcoming.
My name is Robert Martin, and I am a tech addict.