Seate, Mike. "The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Mike Seate column: Technology ushers in
new type of addiction."
Pittsburgh Tribune Review (PA)
11 June 2009:
Points of View
. EBSCO. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Mike Seate column: Technology ushers in new type of
Jun. 11--Over the weekend, I was at the Improv comedy club in Homestead to see Lavell
Crawford, one of the funniest men alive.
A contestant from TV's "Last Comic Standing," the massively proportioned Crawford put
forth a brand of bittersweet humor that had us laughing so hard that my face actually hurt
the next morning. Unfortunately, not everyone in the room was following the comedian's
A woman seated in the front row was busy text-messaging through the entire
performance. Her absorption was so complete that even when Crawford stopped his
routine to heckle her, she simply glanced up briefly and then continued pressing the
Now, how a person spends her leisure time is her own concern, but tickets to Crawford's
performance were not cheap at $25 per seat. And if a text-messaging marathon is what
she had in mind, why bother doing it in a crowded club full of people?
My guess is, she was incapable of stopping.
Are all of those people we see text-messaging feverishly while they should be driving,
walking, eating or talking actually addicted to digital communication?
Could be, say the experts.
Back in 2003, then-Rutgers University information science professor Sergio Chaparro
issued an experimental homework assignment to 220 students. He required them to shut
off their cell phones for 72 hours. After three days, only three students were able to pass
Brian Jackson, a counselor at A Aardvark Abuse Addiction Agency, a nationwide call
center for people suffering from all sorts of addictive behaviors, said he regularly hears
from people addicted to non-chemical habits such as gambling, sex, surfing the Internet,
shopping and, yes, text-messaging.
"You can become addicted to anything, and if someone had a text-messaging addiction,
we'd try to direct them to a support group in their area," he said.
Eric Hulsey, scientific director for the Pittsburgh-based Institute for Research, Education
and Training in Addictions, said inability to refrain from texting "may be an expression
of obsessive-compulsive behavior."
"Science really hasn't caught up with texting yet, but the American Psychiatric
Association has well-established criteria to diagnose whether a behavior is compulsive,"