I recently watched a movie on Netflix called “Thanks for Sharing” and it inspired this entry. The premise of the film is sex addiction, and the characters identify as addicts whose desire for sexual release often controls them and interferes with their ability to form meaningful interpersonal relationships. Interesting aspects of the film include ‘triggers’ such as the subway, where one character faced legal consequences for rubbing up against attractive women, and another character’s inability to be alone in a hotel room with a cable TV due to his compulsive nature to watch pornography. Social stigma is also addressed in a scene where the main character discloses his addiction to the woman he is dating and her initial response is to question whether sex addiction is an actual condition or ‘just an excuse for guys to cheat.’ Her character has also been treated for breast cancer and the question is raised as to whether or not society is more accepting of a physical condition such as cancer or an invisible illness like addiction.
The film really got me thinking about the subject of addiction, both in my own life, and how it is viewed by society in general. When it comes to the term ‘addiction’ it would seem that many people’s perception of it mainly involves substance abuse and many people overlook the countless other vices which can take hold of someone. The new and emerging trend of mobile technology in particular is something society is becoming increasingly dependent on. Nowadays people cannot seem to function without their cell phones, and the virtual world of cyber space and instant messaging is the ‘new normal’ for social interaction. If part of the driving force behind addiction is escapism, how is the constant use of mobile aps, continuous text messaging, endless online chatting and reading daily updates on Facebook much different than someone who uses drugs or alcohol to blur their reality?
I know I have personally been consumed by this new electronic form of communication and it has not always been good for my mental health. The mobile application Grindr is a communicative device for gay men which utilizes GPS technology to coordinate the exact global location of one another. In other words, it calculates exactly how close two guys are to each other so they can get together, i.e. fuck, date. (The application Tinder is the same idea for heterosexuals.)
I have relied so much on this technology that it causes me anxiety when I try and delete it. Whenever I have accidentally blocked someone attractive before reading their message I feel I have missed a potential opportunity for sex or something more. Does this make me an addict? Possibly. I do know my interpersonal relationships in real life have suffered from the dependence on this particular form of ‘mobile communication’. I cannot approach someone in person as easily, and often when I do meet someone, it seems to lack the sheer mystery of someone online a few hundred feet away. Sexual fantasies are best played out in the realm of anonymity and I find them the most alluring. When you start dating someone, you really have to show your true colours and it can make you more vulnerable to heartache. I use this reasoning to describe why I am single, but it could simply be my own denial of a cybersexual addiction to a mobile dating app.
I know I have gotten slightly off track. The purpose of this post was to discuss certain addictions, but part of the problem is that society only acknowledges certain types of dependences as ‘real’ while failing to fully understand everything else which can control us (e.g. money, food, sex and technology). For anyone reading this, I ask you to step away from your iPad or computer, get a glass of water, and observe the real surroundings you are in. We don’t do this nearly enough in our daily lives.
About Mark Rob
Mark Fraser is a 30 year old man who has lived with depression, anxiety and obsessive thought for much of his adult life. Since coming out as gay in high school he’s had difficulty relating to others in his community and has experienced self-doubt and a pensive outlook for his future. Mark moved to Toronto in 2012 and has become involved in Second City Improvisation classes as well as personal training in order to maintain his physical and mental health. He has expressed interest in blogging with Healthy Minds as a means of reaching out to others who feel isolated and as a way to express himself in a positive space. You can connect with Mark on Twitter or Facebook.