It was inevitable, it had to happen at some point. Perhaps I jinxed myself? Perhaps it was about time for replacement? I don’t know. What am I talking about? Well, my beloved penguin and I were forced to part ways two weekends ago. And just as I’d predicted (as I jinxed myself) there was no way I was going to part ways with it or my watch (which went as well) without a lot of blood being shed. And a lot blood was shed indeed.

The poor little thing is probably traumatized in the rough callous hands of some semi-literate thug who has no idea what it’s capable of doing. I’d squeezed out every ounce of functionality that it had to offer, kwanza Nokia should hook me up with an N series for free!!

At this point you might be asking yourself “Er….okay, this jamaa has an unhealthy attachment to his phone!” That would be true. I can’t explain it either. I did have an unhealthy attachment to the penguin. I always had the phone with me everywhere I went. The only time the phone wasn’t next to me was when I was taking a shower. (which means that if ever you tried to call me and I was on mteja, I wasn’t. I was just ignoring you!) I don’t like phone calls anyway, I rarely make them and when I do, it’s a chap chap affair. “Hi, where you at, let’s link up at place ABC at XX hours, cheers”

The folks have been asking “what are you so frustrated about, it’s just a phone! Si you buy another one?” They just don’t understand it and I wouldn’t expect them to. We’ve come from far bana!

After losing the phone, that’s when I came to realize something else. It only occurred to me as I was reading the Sunday Nation which had an article about internet addiction. While reading the article, I noticed that several (if not all) of the symptoms referred directly to me! Considering that I spend virtually every waking hour on the internet, either blogging, using Wikipedia or chatting with friends scattered all over the world. That comes to about 18 to 20 hours per day spent on the internet.

After doing a little more research on the net, I came across a few more articles about internet addiction. Sample these symptoms:

  1. Using online services everyday without any skipping.: Yes, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t ever online for more than two hours. That must have been last December when I was on a flight to Nairobi.  
  2. Losing track of time after making a connection: Yes, which is why sometimes my alarm clock goes off while I’m chatting online and only then do I realize that I’ve been on the net the entire night.
  3. Going out less and less: well, not really. When I go out, I’m usually logged into the net.
  4. Spending less and less time on meals at home or at work, and eating in front of the monitor: I’ve always had a very healthy appetite so this doesn’t apply. 
  5. Denying spending too much time on the Net: Yes. My friends complain that I spend way too much time on the internet. And of course I deny that.
  6. Others complaining of your spending too much time in front of the monitor: Refer to #5 above.
  7. Checking on your mailbox too many times a day: um…. I’m permanently logged into my Gmail account(s) and I send out and receive tens of emails per day.
  8. Thinking you have the greatest website in the world and dying to give people your URL: Well, I don’t go throwing around my url aimlessly, very few of my friends know about this blog.
  9.  Logging onto the Net while already busy at work: Kwani unaskia na wapi?
  10.  Sneaking online when spouse or family members are not at home, with a sense of relief: Er?! Not applicable.

Upon further reflection, it occurred to me that I have developed very antisocial behaviour over the last couple of years without even knowing it. And over the last 11 days of serious withdrawal symptoms, I’ve been forced to come to terms with this problem. I’ve had to re-discover and redevelop acceptable social behaviour which includes

  1. having normal face to face conversations,
  2. actually picking up the phone and calling a friend just to chat
  3. taking a walk to a friend’s place without calling in advance, just to hang out.
  4. Reading books – I’m actually ashamed to admit that last week I read, for the very first time William Shakespeare’s tragedies Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Hamlet.Further research revealed the following.

“…The other controversial element related to the use of the Internet addiction is that unlike chemical dependency, the Internet offers several direct benefits as a technological advancement in our society and not a device to be criticized as “addictive” More questions abound:

  1. Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)? Yes
  2. Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction? Yes
  3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use? Er…not really
  4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use? I get extremely irritated when Safaricom kicks me off for more than an hour, especially mid chat.
  5. Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended? Yes
  6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet? Checking up on football scores post shag… I’m sure this qualifies, no?
  7. Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet? Yes
  8. Do you uses the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)? I guess so.

Patients were considered “addicted” when answering “yes” to five (or more) of the questions…. the cut off score of “five” was consistent with the number of criteria used for Pathological Gambling and was seen as an adequate number of criteria to differentiate normal from pathological addictive Internet use.

(Read the rest of that report HERE, pretty boring stuff though)

So there is such a thing as internet addiction? I guess it’s possible to be addicted to anything in this world. The internet can indeed be a drug like any other coz with each dose, one keeps wanting, no, NEEDING more and more so as to get that same measure of satisfaction.

I need to join “Internetaholics Anonymous” or join a support group of sorts. But who with? Who else spends as much time as I do on the net? I think I know at least one very tall man. Chief, hebu we form a support group!!

Perhaps losing the penguin was a blessing in disguise. Only time will tell (yaani until I get a new phone). For the meantime I’ll have to get used to operating with this Nokia 1110. I’m working with Safaricom insiders as well as the cops to try and trace the penguin, hopefully this will lead to a successful recovery. I’ll keep y’all posted on how that goes. But I’m also eyeing the Nokia N70 as a possible replacement.

Photo of the day

please wash your hands

What’s on my playlist?

Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac