I am not a drug addict or a smoker but I think I am becoming Internet addict and looks like it’s even more dangerous as its changing the way my brain works…Do you feel the same?

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Today in this post I would like to draw your attention to the most common and increasing problem in the society. I hope you think for some time and reflect back the way we are living today and make sure you are not falling into this trap of technology that we ourselves have woven around us today. We can also discuss more on this if you would like. I am trying to recover from this initial phase of internet addiction that I have recently realised and will be more than happy to share more insight into this if needed.

Sign of Internet Addiction: (reference: http://www.netaddiction.com/)

  • Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
  • Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
  • Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
  • Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
  • Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
  • Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
  • Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
  • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, and depression)?

Other Symptoms Include:

• Failed attempts to control behaviour
• Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities
• Neglecting friends and family
• Neglecting sleep to stay online
• Being dishonest with others
• Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behaviour
• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
• Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

The categories of internet addiction includes: (reference: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Internet_addiction)

  • Sex – the person uses the Internet to look at, download or swap pornography or to engage in casual cybersex with other users. This results in neglect of their real-world sex life with their partner or spouse.
  • Relationships – the person uses chat rooms to form online relationships (‘online dating’) at the expense of spending time with real-life family and friends. This could include having online affairs (‘cyber adultery’).
  • Games – this can include spending excessive amounts of time playing games, gambling, shopping or trading. This can lead to severe financial troubles.
  • Information – the user obsessively searches for and collects information.
  • Social networking addiction – includes the desire to constantly monitor social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This includes constantly updating profile posts and checking messages to inform friends of what you are doing at the present moment.

Cause: Now as per the various researches there can be many things that can actually cause this addiction. Some of the reasons can be as follows:

  • Personality issues – the user may have personality issues that make them likely to become dependent on a range of things – such as cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, other drugs or the Internet – given the right circumstances.
  • Shyness – people who are shy in real-life situations may be drawn to the anonymity of the Internet and believe they can be their ‘true selves’ when online.
  • Biochemical responses – the person’s brain responds to the online rewards with ‘feel good’ chemicals and this biochemical ‘high’ encourages dependence.
  • Escapism – the Internet is so absorbing that the user can forget about their problems or escape negative emotions while online. Because it makes them feel better, it encourages them to turn to the Internet more and more for relief.
  • Instant gratification – search engines help users find what they want quickly – for example information, gambling opportunities or pornography. This instant gratification encourages them to stay online.

Our brain like our other body parts is always changing the way it works with changes in our activities. Our dependency on technology is reshaping our personality and wiring of our brain. Our brain is always adjusting to new things in life and how we are looking at the information in our daily life. “The deeper a technology is woven into the patterns of everyday life, the less choice we have about whether and how we use that technology,” Mr. Carr wrote in a recent blog post on the topic.

In today society students feel lonelier if they haven’t got their smart phone with them even when they are constantly surrounded by thousands of other fellow students. This seems to become big issues with the ability to communicate face to face and causing anxiety in people. We need to look into it and I would say that we bloggers spend a lot of time writing which is a very effective tool to focus on one topic and helps reduce internet addiction in case we are able to write without feeling the need to check our emails or browsing the internet every few minutes. Check out some self-help on the same.

Self-Help: In this situation you might want to use some self-help

  • Take note of your symptoms – for example, keep track of your behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
  • Think about why you use the Internet so much. What makes you go online? Is there a real problem you’re not facing up to?
  • Brainstorm (think about) other ways to cope with your problem that don’t involve the Internet. Choose some that will work and put them into practice.
  • Use relaxation methods like deep breathing or meditation to manage anxiety symptoms.
  • Rediscover the neglected areas of your life – for example, socialise with friends, make love to your partner, take your children to the beach, get out and be active.
  • Seek professional help if necessary.

Going to Singapore, end up in Bangkok – Holidays turned into Adventure

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It was a sunny and beautiful day. I had packed everything I need. I was sure that I am going to enjoy this well deserved break as I reached Sydney airport. I was so excited to go to Singapore for the first time for 5 days. I was flying with this airline also for the first time. All arrangements were done – accommodation booked, sightseeing pass was booked and I had all the required documents with me. This time nothing is going to be wrong – no delays in reaching airport (as I missed the plane few months ago when I was going to Brisbane due to relying upon the public transport), no paper missing and all is good. Now it’s time for holidays. Hurrah!!

But I didn’t know that there is a surprise waiting for me. I handed over my passport to the person behind the checking counter. She looks at the passport and looked at me quizzically. Now what could go wrong I thought? She told me madam you cannot fly. What she said, I repeated to myself. She sensed my confusion and answered without any delay that I haven’t got the appropriate visa to go to Singapore. But a friend of mine informed me that we can get visa on arrival.  I told her about the same but she then informed me that I hold an Indian passport hence I should first apply for visa and she can postpone my flight. I was not sure how is that going to work as I have got leaves for 3 days and 2 days over the weekend and no way was I going to get visa before that. I had to leave the counter any ways to decide what to do now.

There was a moment when I wanted to let the tears trickle down my cheeks thinking here goes my holidays and I should not be preparing for my own travel now onward  But then a voice came into my head and said – You are not giving up. You are going to fly today to Singapore. I instantly ran to check internet in the airport to see if there is a way I can get some help in this situation. I called the embassy but they said it will take at least 4-7 days process and that too in Canberra not like I could drive to some office in Sydney for immediate assistance. And I couldn’t postpone my holidays due to the deadlines I had to meet at work in next couple of weeks. But I was determined to get out of the country and have a well deserved break after working almost 4 weekends in a row.

I went back to the checking counter and asked if they have any alternative in my situation. They didn’t want to take risk of flying me to Singapore just in case I can’t get visa in Singapore so they gave me an option if I fly out of Singapore and go to some other country then I can get transit visa in Singapore maximum of 3 days. She asked me if I want to go to India from Singapore. It sounded like a joke as I wasn’t sure whether she was familiar with the geographical distance from Singapore to India and that too when I had only 5 days of leaves. It was like having a holiday in the air, touchdown India and come back to Sydney. Although I didn’t express my amusement to her, but I knew I am never going to forget her suggestion.

I checked the available options with them as they could fly me to Japan, Bangkok and few other places. Suddenly I decided to fly to Bangkok and asked them to book the same. I lost money on the return ticket from Singapore to Sydney and paid extra money for the flight from Singapore to Bangkok but the money didn’t matter now as I need to do this. Although in the first place I made this plan because of the available deal on flights. So it was getting funnier when I was paying even more than regular price of flights. But somehow I had to make a choice between the holidays somewhere nice or back to work behind my desk. So I chose the holidays. I checked in with the new itinerary and a new destination – Bangkok. I always wanted to go to Thailand but not in this manner. I had dreamed to go there for at least 2 weeks and enjoy and now I was going to be there for 2 days.

But no worries I am on the plane and its going to be awesome I told myself. Although the story doesn’t end here. There was more to come. I had booked a flight to Bangkok but not from Bangkok to Sydney yet which means I can go to Singapore but not Bangkok without having a return ticket. I thought that I can manage as I will book that online. And I am good at finding good deals anyways. So here I come, Singapore – city of beautiful buildings I felt. I loved the idea of going to Singapore as I have always admired the well planned cities not that I don’t like the old cities. I felt a sense of triumph after landing in Singapore as I had passed the first hurdle – flying to Singapore. And now I had to deal with another one – Flying to Bangkok. But that can wait as I have 3 days here and I don’t want to muddle that. I was given strict warning in the Airport saying that I should not be staying in Singapore for more than 3 days. I was alright I thought, no big deal. But I was not aware of what’s there in store for me still.

I checked-in in my place and explained that I have to leave in 3 days and not 5 so asked them to charge me only for 3 days. With a little bit of discussion and explaining my situation that got settled. Now it was time for dinner – It was late in the evening so I went out and had a quiet dinner and came back to check internet in my place with a strong feeling that I will book the tickets for Bangkok now. I searched various options and the price first blew my mind as I was paying fortune to go there for two days. Still I muster some courage to book it, now what’s that – A message saying that a security code is being sent to my mobile to confirm the ticket. Bugger, I haven’t activated international roaming on my phone. I never do when I travel so that I have some quiet holidays without any interruption from the people I know. I never had to book anything from other countries either so I never found out the options to do that otherwise I could call my bank and deactivate the phone security for some time. Now I felt that I was in soup. It was 2 AM already and I had to visit many places next day. I checked Facebook  no one from my inner friend circle was online who could help me with the ticket. I had no choice but sleep.

Next day I told myself to forget about the ticket and focus on visiting the places I have got the pass for. I started my day very enthusiastically and cover 3 places in a day with my excellent management. I know the other matter doesn’t show much of that but things happen and there is first for everything. So any ways I was back in my place all tired. I chose internet over food and got some fruits that I could binge upon while trying to book the tickets again. I saw one of my friends online today. I felt it’s my lucky day. My friend was working in Europe at that time. I felt a bit embarrassed but came to the point very quickly and asked him to book my ticket explaining my situation. He was so nice that without much fuss he started booking the same. I gave all my details but then he pinged me on Facebook chat back that the payment page is leading him to another page saying that the site can’t be trusted. Now it was new. He tried couple of time but the same message and I didn’t want to trouble him anymore. Now I had one more day and it was too late. I send an email to another friend of mine explaining the situation and went to bed thinking about the next day.

I woke up bit uneasy thinking about the ticket and checked my email first thing in the morning. A reply from my friend was waiting for me giving me few options with flight he could book for me. A sense of relief flooded me. I quickly replied to him and started for another day’s adventure more carefree today as I was going for the forest adventure that was going to tire me physically. I had an amazing day even the rain in the evening didn’t touch my excitement and I did the night safari in the zoo. I came back and saw that the ticket was waiting for me. I could fly on time to Bangkok now. I utilized the last day in Singapore to explore a toy museum which was nice as it brought back the memories from my childhood. Although it was another adventure to go to Bangkok without much preparation but I loved my holidays and saw more things than I could imagine in 5 days. It was tiring but full of adventure I would say. Thanks for reading this. I am looking forward to my next holidays now.