Smartphone Addicts Anonymous
Don’t mind him, Unnat is a Facebook addict and that’s how he expresses his emotions these days,” the moderator said. I was attending my first group therapy session for smartphone addicts and everyone was sharing their stories in turn. Although it was my first time here, few things were quite evident:
October 3, 2018
“Hi, my username is John_Love_Lost and I’m an addict.”
Everyone clapped except for the one guy who gave him thumbs up. “Don’t mind him, Unnat is a Facebook addict and that’s how he expresses his emotions these days,” the moderator said. I was attending my first group therapy session for smartphone addicts and everyone was sharing their stories in turn. Although it was my first time here, few things were quite evident:
1. Without their phones, not a single person knew what to do with their hands. If a predator attacked us right now, we’ll try to look for a snooze button than fight the beast. Darwin’s evolution theories had lost to cheap internet.
2. When the room fell silent, it was awkward. There were no phones to look at to reduce the awkwardness and looking at each other meant more awkwardness. We just stared at our crotches to take a social pause.
3. The guy in the white shirt was clearly upset that he couldn’t post a story about this meet; the lady in the blue top was clearly upset that she couldn’t post a picture of the free coffee and everyone was upset because Unnat kept poking people in real whenever he wanted to talk.
When the meeting began, the senior-most member of the group was asked to speak first. John went to share how he was left with no real life friends and that his addiction to smart phones cost him his marriage. After his fiancé Rosy left him at the altar because he was busy updating his relationship status on Facebook before saying “I do”, John hasn’t touched a smart phone in last two years. He now spent his time doing community service and telling people about the ill effects of overusing the phone.
Phones are becoming smarter, humans are becoming dumber, I thought. I could have imagined gigantic robots from future enslaving the humans, but never realised that these small chocolate bar sized devils were ruling the world, one person at a time. Some of the stories made me think:
1. Ashish admitted that he could no longer poop without fiddling with his phone. Also, since he spends minimum two hours in the loo, his boss has threatened to shift his work station to men’s restroom or worse, transfer him to the HR department.
2. Vinita is addicted to online shopping apps and shouts “add to cart” even while buying vegetables from local vendors. She even started a “30 mins delivery or free” petition for online shopping which gained a lot of traction from addicts who couldn’t wait for their products to arrive.
3. Brijesh, a mobile gamer, was once ready to get willingly arrested because a rare pokemon was located near the central jail. Thankfully, he was let go without much hassle (he helped the officer in charge with candy crush).
4. Anu once woke up, saw an intruder in her room and called the police. It took them hours to convince her that all she saw was her own reflection in the mirror. She’s addicted to filters and can no longer remember her real face. There are rumours that she can talk to cats after having used the cat filter religiously.
5. When asked about his profession, Tarun tells people that he is a full time WhatsApp admin. His day-to-day routine is to send good morning messages (sharp at 5 am), puzzles, motivational quotes and changing the group name at midnight if it’s a member’s birthday. When his family tried to question his behaviour, he banned them from the family group for a week.
This continued for a while until everyone had shared. In the end, the moderator told everyone how brave they all were. After hearing everyone’s story, I realised that my addiction of switching between the apps was still in early stages and could be worked upon. I felt bad for everyone present there except Unnat who was now sending handwritten friend request notes to new members along with his picture.
After the meet, we all went to the break area and proceeded with general chit chat. It was difficult to hold a conversation but everyone was trying their best at human interaction. As we were about to leave, the moderator announced that there was a surprise guest that he wanted us to meet. “Rosyyy”, John exclaimed. The moderator explained how Rosy kept a track of John’s progress and was finally convinced that he will love her more than any electronic gadget. They hugged and everything was right in the world again.
“I can’t control it any longer, this need to be on my snapchat”, the lady in blue top took out her phone and hell broke loose. Everyone lost it and phones were out in a flash. Ashish rushed to the bathroom with his phone, Vinita bought a dress and rushed home to check if it has arrived, Anu added the heart filter to her story and Tarun created a WhatsApp group including all the members. Only Unnat sat in silence and did not react.
“I’m proud of you Unnat, you didn’t give up”, the moderator commented. “Not willingly, John took my phone and is busy updating his relationship status,” Unnat replied. Rosy left.
October 10, 2018
“Hi, my username is John_Love_Lost_Again and I’m an addict.”
The meeting began.
(Sudhanshu Ramteke is a stand-up comedian)