Addiction as metaphor for internet use

Back in April, I attended a wonderful workshop organised by Astrid Mager and Christian Katzenbach called, ‘“We are on a mission”. Exploring the role of future imaginaries in the making and governing of digital technology’. The title of my lecture was inspired by my yoga teacher, who once instructed us to ‘imagine you are an iPhone recharging’. I’ve now expanded on this to explore one of the current tropes in our digital society – namely that of addiction. Years ago, policy makers were concerned about the digital divide and now we are being warned about the dangers of always being online. In this piece, I reflect on the metaphors of ‘use’ and ‘addiction’, and examine some of the paradoxes associated with applying machine metaphors to the human condition.

I am honoured to be part of the series that the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) have on their website about how metaphors are shaping the digital society. There are lots of great things to read about platforms, apples, and backdoors by renowned new media scholars such as José van Dijck, Tarleton Gillespie, Anna Jobin, Malte Ziewitz and many others. It is important to think about how language shapes the technologies that have become so important in our lives.

While I conclude that we need more than ‘mindfulness’ to address the power of high tech and the corporation that produce them, I am incredibly grateful to my yoga teachers at Sukha Yoga in Amsterdam.

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash