Interesting exhibition by Dato' Dr Tan Chee Khuan featuring Heritage Buildings and Smartphone Addiction
INTERNET OR SMART-PHONE ADDICTION
By Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan
The use of the internet is pervasive in our culture. Even children nowadays are carrying smart phones and playing with computers. Often, children are given Ipads as replacements for baby sitters. Or the child and caregiver may play different computer games on separate Ipads. For others, excessive emailing and chatting may signify a relative lack of strong face-to-face relationships. People strive to maintain contact either with long lost, faraway friends or new people met online. Yet they neglect people physically present around them, including friends, loved ones and relatives. Also, there is a tendency to switch websites rapidly which may reflect anhedonia (a decreased ability to experience emotions), as people desperately seek for emotional stimulation.
Even when talking with friends online, like on Facebook, there is a strange kind of loneliness. The loss of a person’s ability to think differently from the people surrounding him is, in and of itself, a mode of insanity that has everything to do with loneliness. This dynamic gives a whole new meaning to the term “alone in a crowd.”
In addition to addiction which may be considered a mental health condition, the internet or smart phone can trigger isolation and depression. People who rapidly surf dozens of websites, engaging in fleeting contact, are most likely to get depressed, or isolated. Peer-to-peer file sharing using social media such as Facebook, heavy emailing and chatting online, and a tendency to switch multiple websites all lead to poor real-life social interaction.
What is even more frightening in recent years, is the increase in psychosis seen in people who are addicted to computer games. They are often on the internet or smart phones for hours, or throughout the day and night. They need to respond quickly to the games, so as to reach a higher level of play to get their ‘high’. This requires too much concentration and mental processing, leading to poor concentration in work or study, excessive levels of stress, and increased chances of mental breakdown.
Personally, I have seen dozens of patients who are unable to concentrate on their studies, or are no longer motivated to study. Many patients had to give up their studies as they are unable to cope any more. Many are admitted for schizophrenia after prolonged intensive addiction to computer games for hours. It is as if the computer had sap up all their mental energy, leaving them with a shell of a brain.
On 10 January, 2014, The Star reported under the headline, Internet addiction taking toll on health, “A whopping 73% of Malaysian adults who took part in the 2013 AIA Healthy Living Index survey, admitted that their online activities and social networking were
getting addictive” putting Malaysia amongst those with the highest addiction rates in the Asia-Pacific region. The article continued, “Of some 900 Malaysian responders, 81% stated that spending time
online prevented them from getting enough exercise or sleep, while 80% claimed that their posture was affected”.
There are also reports of sudden deaths in people who are addicted to computer games. The Star reported on 6 November 2013, that a 23 year old man died of a heart attack in Penang, apparently after playing computer games continuously for over 15 hours. In December 2012, a 35 year old broker was found dead inside his house, after playing video games supposedly. He was found with a video game console in front of him. There are similar cases reported all over the world including China, Korea, Vietnam and USA. It is postulated that the need for intense concentration, heightened vigilance, with rapid response, result in stress overload, with release of high levels of adrenaline, causing arrhythmias and sudden death. These are really tragic cases of computer addiction. Like many innovations such as cars or TVs, computers are great, if used wisely but if it is wrongly utilised, they may lead to disaster.
What is the future of mankind? Modern man as isolated, intimidated, disconnected and constantly distracted - not exactly an appealing vision of the future! Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots.” As an indictment of the current obsession with the internet and smart phones which reflect the time we live in, I have painted a series of paintings based on the theme, “Smart Phone Addiction”.