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A 45-year-old corporate chief executive in Seattle finds himself locking himself in his office, holding all his calls and surfing the Internet for pornography for hours on end. A University of Washington student flunks out because he stays up all night - every night - playing online fantasy role-playing adventure games. A homemaker turns on the computer when the kids go to school. When they come home, she's still there, talking about sex with total strangers in an online chat room.
'This is really happening, and it's pretty powerful stuff,' said Jay Parker, and Eastside addiction counselor. 'This does impact people's lives. They need to start figuring out ways to live their computers and make it a healthy part of their lives.' Indeed, technology has been infused into the lifes of each and every one of us human beings. Be it for work or for play, technology is always part of the picture. As Jay Parker of Redmond's Internet / Computer addiction services provides, 'There are people who spend 14 to 18 hours a day online. They work 10 hours on the computer then go home and get online. And everybody they know does the same thing. It becomes normal,'
Let us take Veronica Randall as an example. Hardly anything keeps her off the Internet. A $1,000 phone bill didn't keep her away. Neither did the pleas of her 13-year-old daughter. She said she has what she needs online: a boyfriend, more than 200 friends and a supportive cyber-family. 'I know I am addicted. There is no doubt about it,' said the 34-year-old Colville mother of four who spends as much as six hours daily on the Net after work and college classes.
She is one of 6 to 10 percent of Internet users in the United States considered addicted to online computer activities ranging from fantasy games to chat rooms. 'I have spent more time online than I meant to,' said Randall, listing Net addiction symptoms. 'I have given up real-life activities. I have turned down offers with friends. I have spent thousands of dollars on computer equipment. I have had my children tell me they think the computer is more important to me than they are.'
While it may seem that it is we humans that harness and control technology, many a times, it appears that the hiearchy of 'beings' are shifting. Technology has been proven to consume us, as with Veronica. Almost everything in real life can be provided for by technology, within the virtual world. Friends, 'family', relationship. By providing us with these virtual and yet tempting manifestation of what makes us humans-that is, relationships that define us-technology is, getting closer and closer into our hearts-so close to our hearts, our relationship that links us to real life takes a backseat when confronted by our 'virtual' relationship. Can we truly control techonology? Let us look at another case study. The allure of friends around the world and the seemingly perfect world gaming offered were keeping him online 18 to 20 hours a day for weeks on end. Responsibilities would beckon, but he'd keep promising himself 'just another 10 minutes playing online everything form 'Anarchy Online' to 'City of heroes' to 'Counterstrike'' - 'literally every single multiplayer online game out there.'
Meanwhile, his real-life problems went unsolved, his homework went undone and he was screwing up jobs at Arby's and Jack in the Box. All this caused him anxiety, and he coped by telling himself hs procrastination reed time for gaming. 'And oddly enough, you get a relief,' he said. '. The more you do it, the easier it gets.' Osborne, 24, of Kenmore, now knows that he was clinically addicted to online gaming. He is not alone.
We need technology. We want technology. We cannot live without technology. Technology is like a drug-the simplest way to escape from the cruel reality. This drug is being spreaded, and no one is stopping it, controlling its spread. When everyone wants and needs technology, is it still possible to be masters of our own fates? Or would we perhaps just willingly go with the flow of technology, and go the simple way?
It does indeed seem that technology has slowly crept into our everyday lifes, as if it were the very shadows of our existence, manipulating and tempting in order to seduce us into the depths of abyss, the cyber-world. Like Danny from our Novella, many of us fall into the trap of escapism, escaping from the real world, into the virtual, where everything is simple, convenient, easy. Technology is taking over. For almost everybody in the developed world, computers are used to do almost everything. Be it schoolwork, socialising, shopping, or playing. Today, students study in school in the day, and then return to the cyber-world at night. It will not, however, take long before people hold the gateway to the cyberworld everywhere they go.
Technology is improving. The gateway to the cyberworld is getting smaller and more convenient with every passing second. People are willingly consumed by technology. In seeking instant gratification, everything must be lightning-quick. In the real world, everything is just a torture. it would be simpler if we could just give in. give in to technology. Afterall, it is simple: with just the flick of a switch, we can immediately enter a place where there are no work, where there are countless friends, where everything is just so easy. The thing is - do we want to?
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