PDA addiction distorting lives and communication

It’s 2008, and I’m living my life exactly 160 characters at a time.

Personal digital assistant (PDA) and smart phone addiction is a gradual process of isolation through integration. The purpose of a PDA is to aid its owner in staying as up-to-date as possible by improving or eliminating elements of communication that slow information exchange. Ideal examples of these elements include limited Internet access and mail delay, and in such ideal situations, PDA intercession is warranted without substantial detriment.

Problems arise, however, when individuals decide to subjectively self-diagnose these impediments, and I would argue that the precise moment of PDA addiction occurs when one begins to view personal contact as only an obstacle. This person becomes entangled in a paradox that has yet to develop any level of prominence in discussions of psychosocial pathology.

The conundrum exists as follows: Cellular communication serves direct communication, so to replace the latter with the former would result in a world in which interactions devoid of any human interference can occur. Obviously this development would not take place overnight; the transition would be gradual.

At some point, the individual will lose touch with the very nature of the subject with which he or she is in contact but the residual desire to remain “connected” will be inherent. People will exchange messages only to keep from going too long without doing so, constantly seeking to avoid feeling social withdrawal. The intensifying addiction will be coupled with a decreasing concern as to whom the message is for or the significance of content. The mobilization of interconnectedness will result in an inverse relationship between frequency and integrity of exchange.

Simply put, the more you talk, the less you mean – literally.

It is not uncommon for society to quickly fall in love with its shiny new toys. After all, this nation has a continued love-hate relationship with bourgeoisie commercialism.

The PDA emerged as a supplemental accommodation at times when human interface was difficult or impossible. Over the years its functionality grew, as did its market share of the human psyche. Recently, psychiatrists have paralleled smart phone addiction with the characteristics exhibited by obsessive-compulsives. Sufferers can experience severe levels of anxiety with the lack of PDA access or connectivity.

Extreme overuse can place strain on an addict’s life. Cases of academic and financial failure have been directly linked to too much cell phone use. On rare occasions, an individual may be compelled to engage in criminal activity as a means to support an expensive communication habit. PDA addiction is comparable to human autoimmune disorder, depleting one’s social independence with subtlety and efficiency. Andrea Macari, a psychology instructor at Suffolk County Community College explained these addictive quailities and their relationship to cell phone use to Fox News.

These claims may seem absurd and in need of serious justification, but many people participate in a variety of related compulsions that are disregarded as warning signs.

Here are some examples to look out for: Repeatedly participating in phone calls or text messaging in the company of others; maintaining physical or visual contact with your phone at all times; being unable to travel even short distances without your phone; and experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety that accompany low battery or reception and sleeping within reach of your phone.

I always believed that the source of psychological imperfection lay in the impairment of the processes that led to introspection. The imperfection is somewhat dependent on the lack of its existence in one’s own consciousness. I, for one, sleep with my phone near my pillow. I believed this was my way of staying on top of things and getting a jump on the day. It was not until I compared my tendencies with those of “problem cases” that I discovered how self-awareness has a funny way of drop-kicking you back into reality.

The simple solution is to maintain a barrier between digital and physical reality.

Turn off your phone when you are busy, stressed or sleeping. Discuss current events with friends, rather than resorting to discussion boards. Attend the diverse lectures and presentations held at USF – great thinkers are always passing through. What you learn will stay with you forever. Chart your texting habits – you might be surprised by how many hours a day you spend texting.

Recuperation is a necessary process, as it is important to remember how to function without a phone from time to time. I find it amusing that support groups are available by way of hotline, but hey, whatever works. Just remember to hang up eventually.

Mohammed Ibrahim is a senior majoring in pre-med biology.

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