You're a busy executive maneuvering down a crowded Shanghai street while manipulating an iPhone in your right hand and Blackberry in your left—the gunslinger of the Old West re-armed for the age of global 24/7 technology access. Could you lose one of those smartphones for a whole day and still find meaning in the universe?
Most people don't have a tech addiction and might not even admit to having the profile of an "addict," except in the most snarky BuzzFeed-approved terms. But most people, executives included, have some of the symptoms.
In a recent University of Maryland study, college students from around the globe were asked to unplug for 24 hours. Most struggled with the task. One student even likened the experience to being a crackhead going through withdrawal. Researchers at the University of Washington have even coined the term "pushback" to describe how some tech addicts are making a concerted effort to "unplug," go on a "digital detox" or take a "technology sabbatical"—even if it's just for a few hours a day.
"We have reached a tipping point in our culture about what relationship we want to have with digital technology and how much we want it to run and rule our lives," said Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. "There's been more backlash against the overuse and abuse of the technology."
(Read more: Amid tech growth, one giant stumbles)