I started to think my relationship with my iPhone was getting a bit out of hand when we took the next step and started sleeping together. I downloaded an app called 'sleepcycle' which insists you have the phone under your pillow so it can sense when you're moving during sleep. So now, not content with forever fiddling with my phone during the day, mid conversation, in the cinema, or while I'm meant to be working I now have it lying beside me at night as well, like a bit of an intense love interest watching over me and monitoring my sleeping pattern.
We've become a generation of technology dependent little obsessive's tap, tap tapping away on touch screens and keyboards, addicted to our crackberries or iPhones. Phones and tablets have fast overtaken their relatively bland predecessor- the book. Not that books bland in terms of content, but you can't tweet, like or share a book- unless you actually see the person and physically give it to them, how retro.
The BBC recently hailed 2013 as being the year of digital addiction clinics with the NHS even starting to offer treatment for obsessive social media or Internet usage. According to a 2012 Ofcom report 92 per cent of Britons own, and use, a mobile telephone and send an average of 200 text messages each per month. Since my Grandmother makes up part of this average and sends roughly one txt a week- to make sure I'm still alive in London- then some people must be worryingly way over par. It makes you wonder who has more than 200 things to tell people in a week, the kind of people probably who share 50 pictures of their kids each week which is neither cute or interesting.
With the rapid developments in technology it has now been made possible for my friends, or more likely companies I'm not interested in, to punctuate my day with a continuous stream of beeps, bleeps and buzzes so even when I feel like being productive my stream of concentration is guaranteed to be broken. The digital natives are growing up and their taking over the world of social media, shortly before they realise that in fact, in a cruel twist of fate, social media has taken over them.
The most recent historical development has been the uprising of social media, the obsession with sharing the most intimate details of your life, relationships and shopping habits with the world, or your so called friends. I have nearly 800 friends on Facebook, but in reality I could count my real life, there-all-the-time friends on my fingers and toes- or probably just fingers. It's worryingly addictive and it has been suggested that overuse of virtual mediums breaks down those ever important social skills when we eventually come face to face, after arranging it on Facebook of course.
A man who predicted this reliance and the need for treatment is Dr Greenfield, the founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and fellow and past-president of the Connecticut Psychological Association. He agreed to answer some of my questions so I called his 'cell' from my iPhone, recording the conversation on yet another iPhone, Surprise! Because how else would we do this?
For those who feel they might be on the cusp of addiction Dr. Greenfield has some fairly straightforward advise and highlighted for me why it is time slips away in a Facebook blur most of the time I'm logged on:
"The first rule of thumb is to be conscious of your use patterns and to start to change those patterns so you're not using and abusing the technology in the same way you usually do.
"The biggest power of this technology is that it creates something called dissociation, which is the unconscious use of it, in other words you loose track time and space without any awareness.
"Every once in a while you get a hit of something that is interesting or appealing but you can't predict when that is going to be. There's a neurological, neurochemical component to that buzz, you get a dopamine hit, and that dopamine hit itself is pleasure, and pleasurable experiences are often repeated."
I'm still left not entirely sure how to feel about my own usage of technology and Social Media. If I were to give it up it would be near impossible for me to find jobs, finish university, Skype my family across continents and I would always feel like I was missing out on the cyber-socialising you get via Facebook events, tweets and your Instagram stream. As with anything good in life, like chocolate or gin, it must all be down to moderation. And so, in the words of Dr. Greenfield's clinic, "manage your internet and digital media technology so it doesn't manage you." I might tweet that.
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