Are you staying ‘cyber-dependent’ this yuletide?

Just imagine it – three whole days and nights without email, phone, SMS, Twitter, Instant Messenger, BlackBerry or even TV coverage. It was back in May of this year that I first blogged on the subject of my aunt’s cabin the backwoods of Pennsylvania; and it is from that very lodging that I have just returned.

Just imagine it – three whole days and nights without email, phone, SMS, Twitter, Instant Messenger, BlackBerry or even TV coverage. It was back in May of this year that I first blogged on the subject of my aunt’s cabin the backwoods of Pennsylvania; and it is from that very lodging that I have just returned.

For myself, although it’s a little unsettling at first, a warm numbness seems to develop after about 36 hours when you start to realise that you’re already more than a day behind the rest of the universe. A sort of phlegmatic nihilism seems to kick in at that point.

Discussion around the subject of cyber-addiction over the last decade or so initially concentrated on a youth audience, gamers and MMOGs in particular as they came to the fore.

These days, there are books and even help lines for this sort of thing. So has cyber-addiction and cyber-dependency fully migrated to the adult population at large – will you be staying online over the coming Chrimble period and is the industry well positioned to take advantage of our refusal to shun our keyboards?

As I jot these notes, Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur Twittered, “’X twitters from..' is going to be the standard opening for news stories in 2009, isn't it?" So here I am using a Tweet as a quote. It’s a slippery slope isn’t it?

Sure there are jokes, Christmas-themed Flash media video games and various other pseudo-viral distractions to try and hold our interest over the course of the week to come. But can we not let go for a few days?

The most recent research I could find on the web is a couple of years old. In short, “A team of researchers at California's Stanford University has found that for one in eight Americans, excessive Internet use is a growing problem. Close to 14 per cent of United States Internet users have shown signs of cyber-dependence according to the study, which involved 2 513 people across 50 states and is believed to be the first large-scale look at the effects of prolonged web-surfing.”

In the absence of easy to find UK or even European figures I noted the above. Perhaps not the best gauge as ZDNet.com has just run a story detailing the fact that only 5% of Americans have only work e-mail accounts - and in general, us Brits are a fair bit more online at all times aren’t we?

So will you be blogging, mailing and BlackBerry’ing anyone other than your family between now and the end of the week?

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