Are we a nation of technology addicts?
A spoof news story recently sent millions of people into panic. Did it claim aliens had landed? Had someone 'spotted' the four horsemen of the apocalypse? No. It said Facebook was shutting down.
Unaware the website was pulling social networkers' collective leg, panicked users updated Facebook statuses and tweeted their worries en masse.
OK, so those who fretted were gullible to believe Facebook would pull the plug at the height of its popularity, but it shows how important social networking and technology has become to people.
It begs the question: are we a nation of technology addicts?
You can no longer go out without being snapped on your mate's digital camera and appearing on the internet the next day. It's just like being stalked by the paparazzi! It's enough to make me feel sorry for Katie Price… or maybe not.
Meanwhile at home, family members can spend a weekend in the same house without communicating. Children are hooked up to their laptops or playing on Xbox Live. Parents might judge, but they're no better, constantly checking their smartphones because they can't bear to be detached from the office.
When families do spend time in the same room it's normally huddled in front of the television... Nobody utter a word, Alfie Moon is about to say something profound.
The age of quality time has gone. Try and ask your little brother how his day at school went. He'll be lucky to hear you over Dizzee Rascal's beats on his bass-heavy headphones, but he might grunt back if you're lucky.
We rely on smartphones and social networking to organise our social lives
Meanwhile in the bedroom, valuable hours of sleep are being lost to late night emails on laptops and final laps on Gran Turismo 5. One study found people spend up to two hours a night in their bedroom using technology.
So we hark back to this wholesome view of family life before technology, as if we all wanted to remain in the 1930s.
With no hi-fis around to play our tunes on and radios only crackling out the odd Benny Goodman song, we'd gather round the piano and listen to Grandad play an old favourite. I do hope you've brought your singing voice, this could go on for hours…
Social networking has taken the pain out of organising a night on the town. Facebook may have begun to dominate our social lives, but it does a better job of putting it in order than we ever did.
No more wracking your brains to work out who you have forgotten to invite, just scroll down your friends list and take your pick. Although it's difficult to leave out that mate you normally accidentally-on-purpose forget to invite… She will find you and demand answers when the pictures appear online.
Remember the time before everyone had a mobile phone? Lose someone in a busy nightclub and you may not see them again for the rest of the night. OK, so now you wake up to a mountain of "where are you?" texts the next day, but it's a small price to pay.
Old fashioned ways of staving off boredom still exist. If you want to pick up a book instead of a games console, go ahead. Choose hardback or paperback, or download from a shop of millions on your eReader.
Perhaps we are a nation of technology addicts, but if these fantastic gadgets of ours keep us entertained, informed and in touch with our friends, who is complaining?
Are you hooked on your favourite gadgets? Which piece of technology could you no longer live without? Comment below…
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