The New Addiction

We may look back on the end of the Noughties as the time when e-addiction took hold.

Before the 60s, booze was the most popular addictive substance; in the 60s it became weed and Ecstasy; latterly it’s been crack cocaine. But there’s every reason to believe that a new and powerful addiction has already got hold of us – before we know it.

The new thing which we absolutely have to have – the thing which we’ll go into debt to have – the thing that some people will steal to have – is the latest electronic consumer good.

Look at the take-up of iPads. 7.5 million of the things sold between April and September and an expected 25 million to be sold next year.

That’s not counting the 25 million of non-Apple tablets expected to be sold next year as well.

So why do 50 million people suddenly decide they need a tablet?

Answer: They don’t need one – they’re in the grip of addiction.

In the summer I sat next to a 16 year-old at lunch. She told me she had a new phone every year and expected to spend between £200 and £300 on one.

I was outraged. How could a school-kid spend that much on a phone?

“My phone is my life,” was the reply.

I keep remembering what Freescale’s Henri Richard said at the Electronica Forum last month.

He pointed out that the generation born in the 80s, and weaned on the Internet, are now earning good money and are increasingly spending their money on techie products.

This is true. Young people will shell out a few hundred quid on the latest gismo without a second thought.

They’d feel bad if they didn’t.

And that’s addiction.



  1. Yes thanks Sceppers, getting my E mixed up with my LSD could have been nasty. For a return to childhood happiness a vanilla ice-cream cornet does it for me.

  2. David,
    Phew, at least that’s sorted. At some point I have you pictured at an 90’s Acid House rave ! (since ironically the drug of choice for those events was ecstasy – confusing eh?)
    Anyway back to electronic addictions -mine currently seems to be ebay and filling the house with all manner of circa 1970’s ‘pony’
    in an attempt to create some kind of retro illusion of childhood happiness. Yet more irony.

  3. One of my favourite quotes : “If you can remember the 60s, you probably weren’t there”

  4. That’s the stuff, Stooriefit, it was LSD – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – and all that sort of thing. Sorry to confuse it with Ecstasy. Yes I know about domestic broadband – I blame Edison for all this e-addiction.

  5. MDMA, apparently:
    “The first confirmed sample was seized and identified by Chicago Police in 1970, see Sreenivasan VR (1972). “Problems in Identification of Methylenedioxy and Methoxy Amphetamines.”. Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology & Police Science (The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, Vol. 63, No. 2) 63 (2): 304–312. doi:10.2307/1142315.” from the footnotes in the Wikipedia MDMA entry.
    So jumping out of windows in the 60’s was probably acid, Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD. Under possible risks in the relevant wikipedia page:
    “Whilst there have been no documented human deaths from an LSD overdose,[57] LSD may temporarily impair the ability to make sensible judgments and understand common dangers, thus making the user more susceptible to accidents and personal injury and cause signs of organic brain damage-impaired memory and attention span, mental confusion or difficulty with abstract thinking.[58] ”
    Imagine living without domestic broadband – that’s addiction too.

  6. Sceptic: I thought that stuff which made peole jump out of windows thinking they could fly was Ecstasy – maybe I’m wrong

  7. David,
    Ecstasy -in the 60’s ? Which ship were you sailing on ??
    However, back to the matter in hand, I share your incredulity at the mindless spending of the techno-dweeb generation. Of course back in my day all we had to amuse ourselves was a hoop and a stick.. or maybe, just maybe, I was witness to the beginning of all this dweebery -a green LED Casio calculator you could type 58008 into and read upside-down !
    Perversely, for one who earns a living in the electronics sector, I despise all things technical but I reserve special contempt for Apple products and yet I don’t really know why !
    Could it be their ‘aspirational’ tag that sits uneasy in my increasingly cumudgeonly stance ?
    This is going nowhere, time to go..

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