“Religion is Poison” – These are the infamous words that the Chairman of the People’s Communist Party of China, Mao Tse Tung, said to the Dalai Lama on the final day of his journey to Beijing. He was paraphrasing Karl Marx, the founder of the political system that Mao followed, “Religion is the opiate of the people”.
What did Chairman Mao mean? What did Karl Marx mean? They both meant that when you are addicted to anything, even something as metaphysical as religion, you are weakened. You no longer retain full use and control of all your utilities. You follow a path predestined. Marx saw this in the poverty of the masses. Mao meant that the religious Tibetans would waste their time on outdated and unnecessary customs and traditions. They would not be able to do their fair share in the growth of the nation.
The teens and tweens of today are suffering a similar “technological addiction”. Does anybody like to try to talk to someone, only to have them start texting? This is considered rude behavior, especially by their seniors. E-mail, SMS, Facebook, MySpace, WhatsApp, and Twitter. These are some of the popular social networking mediums of this generation. Their aim is to keep us connected so that we can instantly reach our contacts. It is hard to imagine if the inventors of any of these utilities ever imagined the extent of the addiction that would result. Why do we say that the users of these new technologies are addicted to them?
In a recent survey, it was found that participants would rather spend 15 minutes doing totally mundane tasks and even administering electric shocks to themselves rather than enjoy 15 minutes alone with their own thoughts. People are compelled to do anything just so that they don’t have to do nothing. They spend hours every day on their electronic devices for the most ridiculous, superfluous and bizarre reasons. What is this state of mind? Addiction!
There are various older forms of addiction too; gambling, alcohol and drug abuse.
Also known as compulsive gambling, this is another dangerous form of addiction. The sign of an addict is when they refuse to accept and acknowledge the negative impact that their gambling addiction is having on their family, friends and social contacts. When gambling has become more important to them than their near and dear ones, then they are a true addict.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
There are 17 Million people who are diagnosed as alcohol dependent in the US. This is a staggering figure. The craving for alcohol can be for various reasons; stimulation, anxiety or depression. It is seen as a comforter and a friend of final resort. A famous quote in alcohol rehabilitation centers is: You are not drinking from the bottle; the bottle is drinking out of you. The addict loses control over his dependency. They are unable to help themselves recover from this state. That is when external help is required.
It is the same with Drug Abuse. The addict loses perspective of what they are losing in life just to get the next drag or kick. They steal, even from family, to satisfy their urge. The withdrawal symptoms of drug abuse are acutely painful. That is when external help can aid the addict to live a normal and productive life again.
So, when any activity is constantly repeated intensely day after day, the abstinence from this activity causes severe distress, panic, and depression. This is when we know that we are addicted, be it to smoking, gambling, drugs, technology or even religion. Balance is one of the great virtues and qualities of a truly great civilization. We should use what can aid us, but should never become dependent on it. Once we are dependent, then we are beaten. Maybe that is why Mao was so intensely hateful of religion. He was not one to take defeat lightly. Neither should we.
About the Author
Himanshu, unfortunately, is neither a teen nor a tween. But he can see the dreadful effect of technological addiction on these age groups, in particular. It is a matter of worry. It has already caused many deaths in the case of using mobile phones while driving. If the younger generation can just learn ‘To Keep Their Eye on the Wheel’, life will be a happy journey for them.