An addicted world

Becoming the ideal consumer

This is not about sex and drugs and rock and roll, they have been discussed quite enough in relation to addiction, I wish to look at another and lesser-discussed aspect of addiction in the world and possibly more serious an issue.

To be classed as an Addict requires an acceptance that a person has acquired a dependency upon something internal or external, or perhaps both. Something that our body and or mind perceives that it needs in ever-increasing quantities that our body cannot provide to satisfy, stop or prevent a craving. It can lead to extremes where the person is driven to actions outside of their normal behaviour. We can observe how the effects are physical and psychological. The way a need can overpower an individual and something that could be described as voluntary and involuntary at the same moment. Perhaps better generally understood as ‘demons’ in bad cases.

Within our body, we have receptor cells that react to all types of stimulus, internal and external that allow us to sense environmental changes in and around us. Like all cells that we are make they are constantly replaced and renewed. Each time they are renewed and because of what our body has grown accustom to, they newly form with a resilience to all that has passed to arrive with a higher tolerance to them all. Hence the need to satisfy the addiction is elevated requiring more of the same stimulant before a level of satisfaction has been achieved. A process that can worsen if left unchecked to allow a pattern of addiction to be established.

What I have described could be applied to a child throwing a tantrum when not getting an ice cream they demand. I cannot suggest that is the same, but it raises a question. How easy can we become addicted to something external to allow us to remain feeling safe, endangered, happy, sad, satisfied or any other emotive positive or negative state. These can lead to depression, extreme highs and lows and prolonged states that are disruptive to our state of mind and can stay until understood and treated? Let me mention a few accepted notions of needs; chocolate, a glass of beer or wine, our favourite takeaway meal, Let’s take it up a notch with, feeling safe when you go out, or in your home, the threat of violence, theft, unseen enemies, the list is endless.

They are mainly real things in the world we may see and feel, but what about the things we perceive, imagine or create in our mind. They are just as able to create such reactions within us and can result in anxiety, trauma and other continual states of stress or fear. However, life subjects each of us to more and more external sources such as technology that provides an access to people on a 24/7 basis. Just one example of life today.

Delivered directly to wherever you are, a constant stream of images and data that can and have become addictive to many. We have seen it in action since the ownership of mobile phones went global. Technology that rapidly became a powerful addiction so much that people could be walking into one another on the street. It is evident within our homes, restaurants and everywhere we go, it demands attention. Messages need to be read instantly and calls taken. Photographs viewed, reacted to, liked, disliked or forwarded on. On the rare occasion maybe just deleted.

I’ve seen addictions of all kinds that we have all subscribed to while living in a modern society we call a civilised world. I realise that there are some great things that we owe to technology. But somehow we appear to have been turned into consumers of so many things we didn’t know we needed. I question just how much we do need them all? Do they provide or contribute to a rich and meaningful life? Do they give a sense of family, real friends, community and personal connection? Are they creating divisions and not connections?

Why are we so willing to become needful of such technology when it is breaking down what is the core fabric of our societies and establishing virtual replacements. It’s really is great to connect with ideas and thinking with anyone anywhere anytime. But does it make us feel as good as if we had been sat across the room from them? Shake their hand, hug them or feel their energy by being close and sense them. Feel their touch or brush against our arm as we try to squeeze through a doorway together and both laugh. These things are not replaceable by virtual worlds. I want the contact with a physical person to interact with. I hate text messaging with its excellence to auto-correct a message to change heartfelt words into a mindless stupid rambling.

I sit here typing on a computer, using the very tech that I am pulling apart because of its addictive qualities. The ‘ology’ is good and practical and it saves paper and trees. Yet I recall a prediction made when computers first came into the public domain and were about to revolutionise our world. The prediction made was – A Paperless Office! Many years later, homes are equipped with printers and not just offices, it clearly hasn’t happened yet! Perhaps the paper usage has simply shifted to junk mail usage?

Being an addict is a great consumer quality to have and makes us the perfect customer for so many businesses. Small businesses have grown too large companies which have become global corporations that need millions of customers to make more money. To become even bigger and to create bigger profits to please their shareholders and investors. Not all products are created to turn us into addicts, but I believe that many are, and have been around for some time. Perhaps addiction is a strong term to apply to certain areas of this phenomenon, as our individual strengths or weaknesses can determine our susceptibility to fall prey to them.

Nature can be unpredictable and we are part of that and unpredictability. We have the power of thought and reason with the magic of consciousness that enhances our chances of avoiding such things, but many of our emotions happen in an almost uncontrollable fashion that we often struggle to restrain and resist from becoming overwhelmed by. No one is perfect and we are all fallible, all different yet the same. I am sure we do not desire to be addicted to anything that is detrimental to our health, family or future. But I’ve seen it happening for a long time and it is occurring in new ways as a result of media, technology and maybe things I haven’t mentioned.

Increasing our awareness and being mindful of what we engage in, and what we invest our time and energy into, can improve our ability to be able to step back from the moment and look at what is going on in our lives. Question meanings and values to our personal life in terms of whether it adds or takes away the essential parts of having a good and happy future. Perhaps turn off the television more often, walk a different way to the shops or do things differently. Break the pattern of habit and release yourself from the drudgery of routine. It may not seem like much but it’s a start to changing you and where your life is going. Let yourself discover new sights, new things to sense and experience. It doesn’t take a lot to change things, just a positive mind and having the courage to be different.

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