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Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills


Humans, eh, what are we like? Sometimes it's easier to believe that we're not so much made in the image of God as the mirror image of God - everything back to front and the wrong way around, where our left is right and our right is wrong. At least I hope that's the case, because otherwise God is odder than s/he makes out.

Take our propensity to become addicted, for instance. Alcohol, gambling, drugs, smoking, sex, food, television, videogames all have the power to obsess us if given the chance, as do a whole range of other, less likely-sounding pursuits. And that's why we can't have nice things. Except, of course, that's not true because there is no universal parent figure threatening to take them away before our addiction lands us in rehab or prison (and good luck giving up drugs there).

These thrusting modern times demand thrusting modern addictions so it should come as little surprise that, according to the Guardian, a US user of Google Glass ('smart eyewear that helps you get exactly what you want, in the moment' say its vendors). was recently treated for internet addiction.

I suspect many of us, myself included, already spend more time than is strictly necessary cruising the boulevards of cyberspace. If I spent 18 hours a day - as did the US patient - wearing a device that was constantly in eyeshot and could get me on line at the tap of a finger, I think I'd inevitably become addicted too.

Intriguingly, this is not a story of an irresponsible man whose weak will had been unable to resist the allure of the interwebs. He began wearing Google Glass to help him with his work in the navy: the technology made him quicker at compiling inventories. Having discovered that wearing the glasses improved his performance in one area of his life, it was a short step to thinking it might have the same effect on all the others.

As it happened, he was treated by accident: the 35-day rehab programme he entered to tackle his other addiction (alcohol) banned all means of going on line. His resultant cold turkey apparently included compulsive jabbing of his temple with his finger (the means of activating Google Glass). Intriguingly, he reported at the end of the course that his short-term memory was recovering.

It's long been accepted that the internet and our virtual connectivity is changing the way our brains work. This man had merely had merely allowed himself to be more thoroughly re-wired than the rest of us. You might argue that that's a dangerous road to travel - that if God had intended the line between our minds and the processing power of computers to be so blurred, he'd have made our brains out of silica. However, he didn't give us wings either and (aside from ecological considerations) you'll find few Christians who think we become intrinsically less human when we're airborne...