Sunday, September 22, 2019

Estremera: Curing addiction

I ADMIT, I became addicted. Like many people I am seeing now, hooked on my mobile phone, barely able to do anything else. The moment I woke up, I'd stand up to get my mobile phone first, check on my social media accounts, check on my emails, check again on my social media accounts, with much of the time wasted waiting... as the slow Internet speed makes you wait.

Before I even noticed it, three hours have passed and I have nothing to show for it. The same happens at night, I even extend hours in bed until way past midnight, sometimes until 4 a.m., just waiting for videos to buffer or photos to show up, and waiting for replies to comments and messages, and still with nothing to show for it.

Not one book has been finished, not one drawing made, not one painting completed. Not even an article written. Nothing. No piano piece played, not even a guitar piece. This isn't me.

Hours have been wasted, and yet, the brain demanded for more.

One morning last week, upon waking up, I told myself, "No, I will not allow a gadget to take over my life."

Thus, I deliberately did not pick up my phone and went straight downstairs to do my daily qi gong exercises, played the piano a little, read a book, and then prepared for work. All done by 9:30 a.m., despite the fact that my qi gong exercises take a total of two hours.

I fell off the wagon the following day as I woke up on default mode, forgetting my resolve and before I knew it, I was already browsing and waiting and browsing and waiting. I tried again the following day, and the day became more productive, and I'm back to reading books, real books, and finishing them in two nights.

Now, I'm getting the rhythm of my renewed existence by telling myself repeatedly before going to sleep that I will not pick up the phone upon waking up. Now, I wake up, do my qi gong, mind my pets, maybe sweep the floor a little, steal a few minutes on the piano or a book, and then take that ride to work. It's during that ride, traffic and all when I spend time browsing. My life is a bit better now. I'm getting back on the groove, I'm able to accomplish a lot.

I can just imagine how much time is wasted by all those who have not even resolved to end their addiction, or have even realized that they are addicted. How many students are cramming schoolwork after spending hours glued to their mobile phones? How many employees have to rush to work or are not meeting deadlines because of this? How many of my reporters are making up alibis to cover up for the hours wasted?

I can only look at the people and shake my head.

Riding a jeepney one evening on the way home, three passengers were hooked on their mobiles. That's okay since you can't do anything else in a jeepney at night, anyway. But what I found weird, even irritating was when the jeepney stopped for a passenger, a female student with a backpack who rushed to the estribo (the running board), but stopped with just one leg on it, opened her backpack, ran her hand inside as if looking for something, got her cellphone, zipped back the back, swiped on the cellphone BEFORE going up the jeepney. This girl was not just addicted, this girl was inconsiderate; not minding that others were waiting for her to get in, not even feeling guilty for doing so. For as long as she has her mobile in her hand the moment she sits down in the jeepney, that is all she cares for.

I foresee a future where rehabilitation centers will be built for the severely addicted. It's not easy letting go, you know. Worst, many are not aware of the addiction and just let time pass them by, becoming the most mediocre version of themselves, wasting opportunities, wasting a life, because getting those likes and typing that comment about a concern on the other side of the globe is of greater significance to one's existence. We all know they aren't, but that is what addiction is all about, it's a brain disorder that warps your mind, your priorities.

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