Saying NO to the e-Addiction


by Audrey T. Hingley, Contributing Writer

Audrey T. Hingley

I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have urged me, “You have to be on Facebook!”

Uh, no ... I don’t.

I don’t “connect” with “friends” on Facebook, tweet on Twitter or spend my days browsing social sites. Even if I had such inclinations, I’m too busy.

And I’m an electronic rebel.

As a self-employed writer, I’m not anti-technology: My desktop computer, laptop, email and Internet are frequent companions. My website introduces new editors/clients to my work, and when someone asks “What kind of writing do you do?” instead of getting into time-sucking lengthy conversations, I direct them to

I do research online instead of spending hours at a library, and I can email an article to an editor in the blink of an eye. But I don’t obsessively check email, and in fact advise friends and clients alike if something is really important, call me.

I don’t text or bank online. I don’t have a debit card. I write paper checks for bills and get check images with bank statements. Just the other day, when an acquaintance extolled the virtues of electronic banking and bill-paying, I told her about friends who’ve experienced identity theft and the article I’d read about a $120 bill being (mistakenly) electronically paid as $12,000, wiping out a customer’s account. (Yes, the mistake was rectified, but it took three months for the customer to get the money returned ... thanks, but no thanks.) I use the world of cyberspace, but I don’t trust it.

Most importantly, I want to have a life and as much as possible, real human interaction. I refuse to be tethered to the newest/latest/greatest electronic gadget 24/7.

I don’t download music and I don’t need 10,000 songs on an iPod. I collect music CDs by artists whose music I love and enjoy listening to entire projects; often songs on a CD not released as singles are better than downloadable so-called “hits.”

I’ve switched to digital photography but I still print pictures and enjoy photo albums.

I read — and buy — real books, newspapers and magazines. I read articles online too, but I would hate it if the entire publishing world went totally electronic. I love the smell and feel of paper and books. When traveling, I fill a tote bag with books and magazines; I don’t want to take an electronic device to the beach. For books I want to read but not buy, the public library is free.

Although I love writing on my computer, I’m also a fan of pen and paper: this article had its beginnings on a yellow legal pad. Most writers go back and forth between pen/pad and computer; some, like Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 50 novels, still write all their books in longhand, even as 41 states have omitted cursive handwriting from their required curriculums.

Experts say the pressure many people feel to be constantly connected is taking a toll, personally and professionally. Books and classes have emerged for “cyber addicts” who need help breaking electronic addictions. Reports cite productivity losses for business, and personal issues for those who feel they must be “connected” all the time. Sometimes it almost seems laughable: I’ve seen people text each other when they could literally walk into the next room and communicate in person. I’m sure some sort of “texting-finger syndrome” is the next disorder on the horizon.

One day a few years back, on an outdoor restaurant deck in Florida overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, complete with jumping dolphins and nature’s beauty, a young boy seated near me never once looked up from his hand-held electronic device, ignoring this Eden-like setting in favor of a fake electronic world.

Computers and the digital world, like previous inventions (printing press, telegraph, radio and television), can help or hinder, depending on how they are used. Technology provides us with great tools — but tools are not a replacement for real friends, real relationships and life in the real world.

I might be too busy for Facebook but if you really need me, I’ll be there. For me, that’s what being an e-rebel is all about.

What's Your View?

This column is meant to provoke thought, so we welcome reader comments. Send e-mail to: (please enter “Perspective” in subject line), or send written responses to Cooperative Living, Perspective, Attn. Bill Sherrod, P.O. Box 2340, Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340. 




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