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Are we addicted to gadgets?

Do we shoot up a gadget instead of processing our thoughts and feelings and doing something about them? Do we now deal with feelings of helplessness and insecurity by becoming enraged victims?

The human brain uses a complex system of senses, thoughts, and feelings to help us survive our environment. Feelings, in particular, play a critical role in warning us that something may be wrong. The brain interprets all these signals and determines what, if any, action should be taken.

What do you think would happen if that delicate system ceased to function properly? I'm not a shrink, but I'm relatively sure it would be a real mess. Well, you know what? I think we're beginning to see the signs of that mess all around us. And that's because we're all becoming addicts. Gadget addicts.

Instead of processing our thoughts and feelings and doing something about them, we shoot up a gadget. Think that's crazy? Well, it's not, and it's happening.

The mechanism is simple enough. Your boss slams you, your kid annoys you, your co-worker pisses you off, you have an argument with your spouse, whatever. From time to time, each of us feels small, wronged, helpless. That's part of the human condition.

Under normal circumstances, you spend time comprehending, interpreting, and overcoming these feelings. But what if, instead of listening to your feelings and processing your thoughts, you play a video game, listen to your iPod, text or phone somebody, IM, e-mail, or check out the latest Hollywood train wreck or some moronic reality show or YouTube video?

In short, you escape; at least you think you're escaping. But you're not. The original problem continues to manifest and nothing gets resolved. Unresolved feelings don't simply go away. They're part of the human survival mechanism; they're designed to be difficult to ignore.

If those issues are ignored on a consistent basis, they fester like a wound that's not allowed to heal. They begin to leak out. When we're reminded of them and can't get our fix, we get offended easily, point fingers, become enraged, sue each other, blame everything and everybody. That's addictive behavior.

Does any of that sound familiar? Undoubtedly, there's a lot of weird stuff going on these days.

Gadget addiction may cause such diverse conditions as road rage, teenage violence, learning disorders, even political correctness. It explains why we seem to overreact to everything, as if we believe that simply reacting solves anything. I mean, that's how all the gadgets work, right? You click a few buttons and you're instantly distracted; all your problems go away. It's just like taking a pill. But nothing really goes away, does it?

I've read other posts and comments that touched upon this theme, if not from a different perspective. Many of them blame everybody from electronics companies to corporate America to the opposing political party. That's bull. That's part of the problem. Addicts never look at themselves. They instead act like victims, blaming and pointing fingers at everyone else. That's how this problem manifests. It's an endless cycle. The blame game is an insidious method of avoiding the problem.

And just to be clear, I'm not blaming the gadgets, the gadget makers, or anyone else. We live in a free society and a free enterprise economy. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, they're all out there. Each and every one of us gets to choose to partake or not. It's the same thing with the gadgets.

We're human beings with free will. Each of us chooses to deal with our problems or avoid them. Each of us chooses how we behave. And that behavior determines the quality of our lives. No gadgets, companies, or political parties can change that. It's entirely up to each one of us.

Never in the history of the human race have people had so many choices. Choices are a wonderful thing. But one of the most important choices you can make is to decide when to use the gadgets and when to spend a little quiet time listening to your thoughts and feelings.

Don't be a gadget addict.