Wednesday, March 07, 2007


ADDICTION (n 1599) 1. the quality or state of being addicted (tor reading) 2. compulsive psychological need for a habit-forming drug (as heroin)
JUNKIE (1940) "One that derives inordinate pleaasure from or that is dependant on something."

I was reading some articles and saw some discussions on TV recently about people who are addicted to the internet, in particular, addicted to their email and text-message contacts.
The other morning I had to unplug my old printer to make ready for installing my new one. Because of my cramped work space I had to guess which plugs to unplug from the power bar so I had to try all 3 before I got the right one for the printer. But afterwards, when I turned on my PC, it wouldn't boot up to open and kept on beeping like an alarm clock. I checked and rechecked all the plugs and still it wouldn't work.

I went off to have breakfast with my friend but was in a bit of a stew all morning wondering what was wrong with my hard-drive. Why couldn't I open my computer? I was having withdrawals like a junkie who can't find drugs!!

On my way up the Drive I stopped in to the computer shop and asked what to do. He said it was likely a loose plug for the video connection. ( Are computer techies like pushers?) Afterwards I stopped in at the library to kill a few minute before my gym appointment. I found myself loitering around the computers wondering if I could get a space to check my emails. But all the computers were occupied. I began to feel anxious, desperate for my fix.

I went for my gym appointment but someone had erased my name from the book and put someone else's so I couldn't get to meet with the trainer. So I walked up the Drive on my way home. Came to a web cafe. And absolutely couldn't resist going in to use one of their computers. What a waste of $1. as there weren't any emails for me. And how crazy was that? Couldn't I go a day without my internet connection. Am I addicted?

I know that I can't be far away from home (as when I'm travelling) without immediately wanting to locate the local web cafes. I'm good at it too and I have to admit they are a bit of a life-saver when you're traveling -- that connection with home, a chance to post blogs about all your daily adventures or just to email friends. But what about all those years they didn't have web cafes? (It's only been the last few years that Greece, for instance, got caught up with the cyber world. Before that I can recall spending long hours waiting at the phone company to make calls home. Now everyone there has a cell glued to their ear. I even noticed that in Chile. (No, I am not addicted to text-messaging as I don't have a mobile phone. Thank god for that. One addiction is hard enough to deal with! )

I notice in the paper the other day that China refuses to open any more new cybercafes. This is an attempt for the communist government to restrict the rising influence of the Internet. They are also cracking down on gambling and on-line games. There are currently about 113,000 Internet bars in China. Analysts expect the number of Chinese web surfers could overtake taht of the U.S. which now stands at around 210 million. The curbs on new cyber-cafes was part of the government's campaign to combat the rising problem of Internet addiction.

When I got home that day I took out all the handbooks, fiddled around, and eventually found the problem. The keyboard connection was loose. Duh! I was all upset by now because what if my hard-drive was broken? What if I couldn't use my computer? What if...???? But I switched it on and the darling thing perked up immediately and co-operated. So in no time I was back on line. Phew! I had my 'fix' for the morning. I could enjoy the rest of the day.

I wrote this little essay first on my journal and this is the reply I got from one of the readers:
I'm coming to Van to start 6mo mandatory (locked doors) seminar on authors getting back to their roots.: Plenty of pens and phones, typewriters, computers, palm pilots ......maybe alphabet soup after few months., its the only way to save yourselves.Attendance is free and MANDATORY

I like the idea of the alphabet soup. Any other ideas for rehabilitating computer junkies?

"How use doth breed a habit in a man..."
William Shakespeare 1564- 1616 "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"



Marie said...

I'm definitely addicted. I get really moody if something is stopping me from going online. Going on holiday is a problem too as I can't relax because I find myself thinking I need to check my emails, etc.

Adrian Swift said...

I used to find myself getting addicted to using the computer for short periods of time, such as a week or two of intense use when I'd be totally absorbed in it and couldn't stand to be away from it. When I realized what was happening, I would tear myself away from the computer and force myself to spend only limited time on it until the addiction passed.

I've gotten much better the past few years at spotting a tendency toward getting into that addictive mindset. Whenever I see it coming, I immediately fill my days with other things to do and limit my computer time. I head it off at the pass, so to speak.

When the computer is too distracting and I have other things to do, I actually turn it off and unplug it. There is some sense of finality in unplugging it. I know it won't turn on even if I push the ON button, since no electricity is getting to it.

Blogging can also become addictive, both posting entries on my own blogs and also reading other people's blogs and posting responses. It's fun, and you can develop a sense of community with others which is very helpful for aspiring writers, but at the same time the writing has to come first. So, I try to discipline myself to write first, and blog about it afterward. Otherwise, I'll spend all my time blogging and not write on some days when I could have written and should have written, and that's terrible.

It's not always the amount of time, but just the fact that we're connected that matters to us. When we can't make that connection, that is what feels terrible. Even checking email for just a few minutes gives us that sense of connection. When even those few minutes are impossible, we can feel quite lost.

Maybe it is a good thing if every once in a while we force ourselves to have a day or two or three days at once where we intentionally avoid the use of technology, and force ourselves to interact with actual human beings in person.

Oh, my goodness. That does sound strange, doesn't it! Who would ever want to do a thing like that! But people used to. All the time. It was the only way they could communicate. Poor souls. We've come a long way.

Wynn Bexton said...

Interesting replies. Yes, I have to monitor myself as to how much time I am spending doing things other than my writing. I realized that I check my email far too often, for one thing. Usually I only blog once a week (on any of the 3 blogs I have). I might write a short piece every day on my on-line journal but that takes little time up. Either way, I do it in the morning or later at night when I've already done my day's 'work'.

When I'm home during the day I try to make sure I'm spending the time I need on writing/editing or research. ( I keep a daily time-sheet just as if I was punching in at a real job). These days I teach most evenings during the week so that takes me away from the computer for long periods of time. I don't miss it when I'm not at home unless I know for some reason I don't have access (if it's out of order or something) then I start craving to use it.

Sam said...

I guess I'm an addict - but I have no problem taking a break - a day now and then, a weekend, a month in the summer. I need to take a break. Since I work on teh computer, it's not all internet and e-mail, but it's a real pleasure to sit down in the morning with my coffee, peruse my e-mails, blog hop, and catch the news!


Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Yup, I guess I'm addicted. My entire workday is spent at the computer writing, which makes it far too easy for be to check email, blogs, MySpace, etc. My main goal for this year is to better manage my time. That means I've had to cut way back on my blog-hopping and that's SO hard! I'm a much more productive writer when I monitor my time online.

Wynn Bexton said...

I have to confess to another addiction: TRAVEL. Of course, my excuse for that is being born with a gypsy soul.

(Anyone know of an exotic retreat where I could go for rehab? Tahiti? The Cook Islands?)

Anonymous said...

I just got a data plan on my mobile. I pretty much do not need my computer anymore since I do so much with my mobile phone. The neatest thing is that I can even watch naughty movies:) It is pretty neat, it's called Mobile TV. All I do is point my phone to and they have adult mobile movies in different formats like 3gp movies, symbian, pda or whatever. If you have any other cool sites, please let me know! This one, though, even has a free daily mobile movie.