A couple of weeks ago, blogger Chris Brogan asked: “Are we addicted?” He wasn’t talking about narcotics, coffee, cigarettes or Twilight merchandise. He meant the Internet.
Let’s ignore for the moment that the question was posed by a man who seemingly lives on the web 24/7 (and some would argue is made of pixels rather than flesh and blood) and dive into the question more deeply.
I think addiction is the wrong word to describe our Internet compulsions and behaviors. Perhaps we should called it our collective “impulse control disorder.” But no matter how we label it, there’s little doubt that many individuals find themselves unable to resist the lure of the Internet. It clouds their judgment, disrupts productivity and leads to impolite behavior.
The following scenerios are becoming quite common in corporate environments. Has any of the following signs of Internet addiction happened to you?
You are engaged in conversation with a colleague when suddenly he pulls out his Blackberry (or iPhone), tunes you out, and starts to scan emails. He continues to nod and chime in with non-committed verbal cues. You try to finish your thought, but you simply sputter off and wait for him to finish. He seems to become annoyed that you’ve halted and says, “Go on, I’m listening.”
So you start to talk again, but without any eye contact, you feel as if you’re talking to a wall. Then he starts to answer the emails, his thumbs moving at blazing speed. So you offer to catch up with him later when he’s not busy. He gives you a glare instead of an apology.
You are presenting to a group of executives in a conference room. After about five minutes, you notice that most of the audience is reading and answering emails on their mobile phones or working on their laptops. The multi-tasking continues throughout the presentation. At the end, when you call for questions, you get several – all of which were specifically addressed in your presentation. You are forced to backtrack and go over the material again.
You are presenting at a trade show/conference. Everyone is Twittering. No one is paying attention.
You receive an email from a client or a co-worker. Less than five minutes later, your phone rings and the email sender demands: “Have you read my email yet?”
What if you held a conference call with participants from around the country and everyone muted their phones and cruised the Internet and email while pretending to listen? Does that actually count as a conference call?
Do you start sentences with: “Good question, I just wrote a blog post on the very same topic…”
Do you have any examples of how Internet addictions have effect the work day? Your personal life? Do you find it impossible to go through the weekend without checking email?
Chris Brogan’s post: “Are We Addicted.”