Addiction to technology is a recent phenomenon, and a much debated one. Many question whether or not an addiction to technology is a real or imagined thing. When we consider the definition of addiction– a strong and harmful condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity – we can begin to understand why the question of technology addiction has arisen. Some addictions found in society are damaging to the individual and those close to them, while some addictions within society do minor damage to the individual but are widespread and have a damaging effect on humanity and the planet.
In 2006, United States President George W. Bush said “America is addicted to oil.” This would be a prime example of addiction to technology at a societal level. What he meant, of course, is that American industries are dependent on oil to make machinery work and American citizens are dependent on oil for their commuter vehicles. Cell phones and computers may also be thought of as technology addictions because people compulsively overuse them and because the energy they demand is unsustainable.
Our future depends on acknowledging large-scale societal addictions instead of denying them. The term “addiction” has long been stigmatized as a way of referring to one member of a group as the black sheep who has a “problem,” therefore society as a whole refuses to acknowledge the addictions within it, reasoning that if it is a widespread behavior, it is healthy. The truth is, if we do not collectively end our technology addiction, we will deplete our resources and severely damage the planet’s health. There are ways of drastically limiting our technology use, such as bicycle commuting and exercising impulse control over our cell phones and computers. In order to move our society away from its addictions, we need to acknowledge how we are addicted at an individualistic level and correct our addictive behavior by any means necessary.