Internet Addiction

Few weeks ago while checking emails, I asked myself – why am I checking mails when I’m not on-call nor aware of any serious work issues – at 12:30AM?!  Am I addicted to net?  Is there something called Internet addition?  Too late in the night, a sleepy brain was not ready to ponder much.

Last weekend Sunila reminded me again of possible addiction, when she shouted “You are on laptop for last 2 hours!  Saumya turned the lounge upside down and you are not even aware of it!”  I vainly tried to escape the fiery wrath by helping her to re-arrange the ransacked living room.

What is net addition?  The answer might be different for each one of us.  For me, it is the obsession to check social sites and emails several times a day.  Ok, night as well :-(Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter or other blogs, the temptation to view latest update is too much to resist.  I even carry an internet-enabled mobile to be ‘on line’.  Mind you, I am not talking about work emails, instant messages or updates, when you are at work.  Those are necessary evils.  One need to read, review, and reply those; essential to be considered as a good, proactive, responsive employee.

For someone else, this addiction might be for online games or gambling.  A friend of mine is obsessed with news.  Even if it is about heavy rain prediction for the other side of planet, he will read it completely – and wait for more.  His browser favourites are full of links to news websites; local, national and international.  To watch videos, upload/download images, online shopping, being hours in chat rooms – all of these, if in excess, could be considered as part of net addiction.

One dictionary site defines ‘addiction’ as ‘state of being enslaved or dependent to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming’.  Very true in my case!

No doubt, thanks to social sites I am now in touch with a number of long-lost friends.  However, I now realise that the more time spend on net, the less time I have to be truly social.  Confined to a room staring on laptop monitor can hardly be termed as ‘social’.

You might ask what could go wrong with such an innocent habit.  Apart from, say, being a bit late for appointments, and looking tried and sleepy in office?  A quick search (over internet, of course) reveals the story of Kim Kyung-jae, who collapsed and died after playing computer games at an internet café in South Korea.  Not sure whether the 24-year-old was playing an online or offline game.  No such doubt about the next case.  Qiu Chengwei murdered his friend Zhu Caoyuan for selling an online game weapon!  Qiu lent his “dragon sabre” to Zhu, who went and sold the cyber-sword for 7200 Chinese Yuan.  Just Google above names when you have time for more details…..

Not at all good stories!  I now try to keep myself away from needless surfing.  The best avoidance is to go out for a walk.  It has the added advantage to earn daily quota of exercise as well.  Aha, here’s a warning.  Go for walk without your mobile!  Learned it the hard way. After 5 minutes on my first day’s walk, ‘casually’ checked my emails, and rushed back home to give moral support to a ‘P1’ ticket resolution activity.

If I cannot go out, then I try to join Saumya in her plays.  If that too is not possible (either she is sleeping, or in her “I-am-too-busy-for-you” mood) I pick up the phone and dial friends.  After annoying Abhijeet and Abhishek a couple of times, I made one amendment – change the calling order from alphabetic to random.  Reading, gardening or go out for a swim, alternatives are a lot.  One deviation that I do not want to test/adopt is to watch TV – no point in jumping from frying pan to fire itself.

As in case of all addictions, here too the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ are strong.  Every half-an-hour or so, I feel the urge to log back in.  I hardly sympathised a smoker’s cravings before, but now fully understand the misery.  Hang on there folks… Solidarity is our strength!  United against addiction!! We have nothing to loose but chains….

PS:  Happy to let you know that the options are working for time being.  Watch this space for further updates….

By the way, what are you addicted to on internet?

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Adieu, Satheesh….

I just stood and listened to the dreaded news in broken words from Priya.  Even though it was known that Satheesh’s health was not at all promising, my ever optimistic mind hardly thought of this outcome.

It was 7th Jan 2010 – the day after the heaviest snow I ever experienced.  In fact, the coldest winter UK experienced since 1963.  Working from home, and in between numerous phone calls and instant messages from offshore team, the soft voice of Priya brought me back to the real world that mattered most.

Who was Satheesh Shenoy?

When typed ‘was’, something shattered inside silently.  There is no simple, single sentence to describe the complete package called Satheesh – and it is impossible for one person to do so.  So, let me say a few words about the Satheesh I knew – one of my best friends, a great Team Lead and consultant, badminton player with a number of trophies, one who enjoyed travelling and loved organizing events and trips, one who is always there to help when you need it most; the list will go on and on…..

I still remember the day I first met Satheesh.  A rainy mid-May day in 2003, my first day at Siemens plc Bracknell Head Office.  It was lunch time and my new colleagues were going out to either canteen or their homes for a quick-lunch.  The slim, tall figure of Satheesh came to my desk and said – “Namaskaaram, Enthokkeyundu?”  (Greetings, what are the news?), as if we were known to each other for a long long time.  The very next day, Satheesh invited me to his home for lunch, which I promptly accepted.  A Kerala lunch was not so easily available for a non-driving, bachelor staying in a B&B in Bracknell.  That was the beginning.  How many more delicious lunches, dinners and snacks I had at his home, made by Amma and Priya!

The very same week gave me the opportunity to see Satheesh’s organizing skills.  He easily accommodated Adi, Anil, Vasan and me in his already planned Cornwall trip for May bank holiday weekend.  All we had to do was to arrange a car; rest everything – cottage to stay, travel schedule, sites to visit, and even where to get Indian food – were planned weeks ago.  During the trip, I somehow felt that Satheesh had pre-arranged the weather as well!  Sunny skies and deep blue oceans welcomed us at each beach, and the Japanese Garden near New Quay too was in its full glory.  I travelled much after this trip, to various parts of the UK and Cornwall itself; but I can still confidently say that my first trip to Cornwall was the best planned one.

Following the trip, Satheesh encouraged me to join his weekly badminton sessions at Bracknell Leisure Centre.  Five to six of us played badminton at least once a week.  Soon I found out that I need to practice harder to keep up with Satheesh and his playmates.  Satheesh, Sailesh, Subhash and Balika were at another level altogether compared to my skills.

Later that year, Siemens UK started SAP implementation for their HR requirements.  Even though Satheesh was new to SAP, by go-live  he became an expert in SAP HR module.  I have memories of external HR consultants getting ‘tips’ from Satheesh on how to simplify a complex configuration!  At the same time, he would answer “how-to” queries from business users in simple, non-technical words.

The year went quickly.  Whether it was to apply for an NI card, fill tax forms, rent a house or buy a camcorder, Satheesh’s expertise was exploited.  Not only by me, but by rest of the team as well.  His trips to Sainsbury’s or Safeway were often not alone.  Consultants on short business trips, not with own vehicles, might be with him – to get a ride back with groceries.

Following year, Siemens shifted me to Poole office.  Even though I missed the badminton evenings, we were still very much in touch.  I used his travel documents (Let’s Go Scotland,   Let’s Go London, and many others) to visit UK attractions.  Satheesh used to joke that he should apply strict copyrights for his documents. He used to get emails from unknown people requesting further details on an attraction mentioned in the documents!  Blame the rest of us, who made these documents available to world, with our own alterations.

When I requested Satheesh to attend Saumya’s first birthday get together, he kindly accepted the same and was at the venue with his family. Was a bit late to arrive and said “I am sorry, but need to talk to you later today, once you are back home”.  When pressed to know what the matter was, he said “nothing serious”.  Later that day he delicately informed that he was diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo treatment in coming days.  Only then I realized that even though he was in extreme pain, Satheesh never mentioned it earlier the day, just not to disturb the party atmosphere.  I was speechless, not knowing how to respond to this person who cared more for other’s comfort than his own agony.

Slowly, we learned that the disturbing news was more serious.  But endless hospital runs and painful side-effects did not stopped him from being his usual self.  Satheesh organised  a few more one-day trips.   We went to Bristol Balloon Fiesta along with other friends, not knowing this will be my last outing with Satheesh.  Hospital visits became frequent again.  Even though he was getting weaker, Satheesh was with laptop in hospitals; whenever he could, he was in touch with friends via emails and social sites.  I met him last on the day before he left for India.  Though weak, he said – “See you soon”, and I replied “Yes, in Bracknell; in a few month’s time”.

Friends like Satheesh are hard to get, and their farewell are a great loss to all who knew them.

Satheesh ji, you will be always in our hearts.  We know you are still keeping yourself busy somewhere else; we wait for that next email on upcoming events – whether it is the Bournemouth Air Festival or Leeds Castle trip or Abhishekam at Birmingham Balaji temple …

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