So began a meeting on a recent Wednesday afternoon, as 18 people quietly gathered on a Zoom call. Text in their small video boxes showed they hailed from locations as disparate as Oregon, India and Namibia.
Sarah and the other attendees are part of a growing fellowship called Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous, a 12-step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous that provides tools and support to deal with compulsive internet use. It launched with just a few founding US groups in 2017 and has quickly grown to have thousands of members around the world, with more than 100 online and in-person meetings in seven different languages.
Since Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935, its 12 steps have been adapted for addictions and compulsive behaviors including overeating, overspending and gambling. Now the traditionally abstinence-based program has been modified for a new drug of choice: our phones.
In meetings, ITAA participants who feel their technology usage has veered into destructive territory share their experiences and support one another in setting healthy boundaries.