Like drugs, technology is an addicting and highly sought after augmented reality that generates dependency. Google Glass is a wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display, allowing for digital applications to pop right up in front of you.
For 18 hours a day, a 31-year-old unnamed US Navy serviceman used Google Glass, only taking the device off when sleeping and showering. When doctors in San Diego, California took the device away, he complained of feeling extremely irritable and argumentative.
The man checked himself into the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) in September of 2013 for alcohol abuse. While there, he was suffering from involuntary movements, cravings, memory problems, and even experienced dreams as if viewed through Google Glass, according to The Guardian.
Doctors wrote in the journal Addictive Behaviors that the patient compulsively tapped his right temple with his index finger – a gesture that is used with Google Glass’ function to switch to its heads-up display.
Dr. Andrew Doan, head of the addictions research at Naval Medical Center, told The Guardian that the man, while in the SARP, was “going through withdrawal from his Google Glass.” The patient also told Dr. Doan that “Google Glass withdrawal was greater than the alcohol withdrawal he was experiencing.”
One could read this and assume all weight of admission was on Google Glass, but the man also had other problems:
“The patient has a history of a mood disorder most consistent with a substance induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder with characteristics of social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and severe alcohol and tobacco use disorders.”
After 35 days in treatment, the man felt “less irritable, [and] was making fewer compulsive movements to his temple, and his short-term memory had improved.”
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is distinguished by the problematic use of computers, video games, and mobile devices. IAD was excluded as a clinical diagnosis in the 2013 update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, and not classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Despite this, many experts in the field believe that IAD surfaces other real predispositions, according to TIME magazine.
“There’s nothing inherently bad about Google Glass,” Doan told The Guardian.
“It’s just that there is very little time between these rushes.”
“So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental dysregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.”