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It’s rare that Russell Brand isn’t in the news. After appearing in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Brand discussed his addictive personality – a personality that has led to obsessions with food and pornography as well as drug addiction – in order to fill some inner lack or to deal with other inner problems. Most of us are lucky enough not to suffer such harmful addictions as smoking cigarettes, taking drugs, or alcohol abuse, and so we may think ourselves exempt from the madness of Russell Brand’s world. Yet Brand’s candid interview has opened up a can of worms when it comes to our addictive personalities as a whole species. Though some may have more extreme versions of this personality than others, the increasingly alarming state of things is that addiction in some way or another is becoming a part of our lives.
Every person has their own quirky obsession. Usually it has to be confessed in the form of a TV show, film series, or book series. I can safely say that my obsession with Doctor Who hasn’t diminished in the slightest over the past few years despite it being a kids’ TV programme, and I’m sure that hard-core Game of Thrones fans can recognise their own obsessions with that show. This is normally fine – it’s a way of making ourselves happy and providing some form of escapism from the realities of revision, revision, more revision, and occasionally the worry about money or getting a job.
But the main addiction that almost everyone has to some extent, whether we recognise it or not, is our relationship with technology. We’re at the stage in our development as a human race where technology has advanced so much that now we’re at a loss as to what to do without our mobile phones, without our laptops, or without our televisions. Our phones in particular have become an extension of our physical selves: a device with which to connect to the rest of the world. Indeed, this only leads to more addiction. Our access to the internet means addiction to social media or the need to constantly like, share, update, tweet and retweet whatever is happening in our lives, or something that we have found amusing. Even the simple idea of having camera phones has meant that everything around us has become a potential focal point – taking snaps of restaurant food, beautiful scenes, cute animals, and even our own faces has become commonplace.
This, I’m sure, is nothing new to you. But have we really considered what effect such addictions are having on our experience of life? It’s as if we see the world through technological goggles. Gone is the appreciation of a beautiful scene at the moment we see it; we have to filter it through our camera phones. Gone is the enjoyment of a concert; we have to film the whole thing and stick it on YouTube to show off how lucky we are to have “seen” a band perform live when in actual fact we’ve paid more attention to filming it then enjoying it in the moment. It’s the mind-set that everyone should be interested in what we’re doing that is destroying our experience of reality – and all because of our addictive personalities.
Russell Brand, as much as I dislike him, has reached the point where he can acknowledge his own addictions and the problems that are causing those addictions, and as such he can start to tackle those issues. The rest of us, however, are forgetting and repressing our own issues in a very British, stiff-upper-lip way. The most shy and introverted person can become the exact opposite using technology instead of accepting themselves for who they are or addressing their own confidence issues. It’s the same for all of us – our addictive personalities are leading to an external replacement of our inner happiness, leading to increases in mental health problems and, I would suggest, an overall decline in happiness.
Next time you’re in a beautiful spot, or you’re using social media to get away from your own unhappiness, just pause and think: is your technological addiction really going to help? I’m not suggesting that technology is inherently bad; in fact, it can be very useful. But when it comes to our own happiness and wellbeing, our addictive personalities can do nothing but get in the way.