“Addiction” is a word none of us like very much, because it brings to mind serious things… alcoholism, drug use, and so forth. So imagine my shock when I realized I was addicted to something. Me! The girl who has on and off obsessions that never really put a dent in her life, the girl who can move on easily from things.
I was addicted to social networking.
And how I found out about it was I decided to quit for a month and see what happened. The first week was hell. Every time I was at my computer, my fingers itched to go to my friend’s page and hit refresh. It wasn’t even that I was afraid of “missing out on something,” it was just something I needed to do. I suddenly had all this free time, time I usually “wasted” refreshing my friend’s page and being annoyed that social networking has pretty much died out completely (where did everyone go? Tumblr? Twitter? Facebook?). It was then I realized how much I relied on social networking to get out of doing other things. If I was busy chatting with my friends, I didn’t really have time to get down to business, did I?
That first week was like coming off drugs. I was annoyed, nervous, and not quite certain what to do with my free time. And that is when I realized it had become an addiction. You see, an addiction is not always something you enjoy doing, it’s something you struggle to be without. It is a habit and a mental need and a weakness all rolled into one, and it can be anything from booze to Facebook. Furthermore, an addiction doesn’t satisfy you, it merely makes you “hungrier.” Livejournal was my addiction. It fed me for ten years and then for two, as people gradually drifted away and found other addictions, it was unsatisfying because it no longer fed the “need” in my heart. Like any addiction, it stopped working and left me miserable and wanting more, hoping that it would get me to the “high” that I once had from being on it.
As we all know, the only way to break an addiction is to be stronger than your desire to give in. I held on and you know what? After the first week, it got easier. It has been almost a month and I’m not even curious anymore. I broke the habit of checking that site every hour for updates and I don’t miss it. But what I have learned is that anything can hold me in bondage. We might feel high and mighty and “holy” because we don’t struggle with alcoholism in our life, or have never taken a sniff of cocaine like most of our peers, but the truth is, our world is a sinful, addictive place, and we are human. We are weak and vulnerable and have addictive personalities, and our bondage is different for each one of us.
How do you test if you have an addiction and in bondage? Try going without something for awhile. If you can’t stand a week without television, you’re an addict. If you can’t go three days without your morning cup of coffee, you’re an addict. If you cannot take a break from reading Christian romance novels, you’re an addict. “Addiction” doesn’t have to be “serious,” it just anything that takes control of your life and inserts itself as a “need.” And it changes on us. If we give up one addiction, another tries to creep in to fill the void. Going off carbs, my body craved peanut butter!
Ours is an addictive society. I have been around people who literally could not take their hands off their phone, who were constantly checking it for messages even in the midst of doing something else. I’ve been around people who couldn’t shut off their laptop even to watch a movie, because they needed to be close enough to check their social networking site every twenty minutes.
I’m learning to break my reliance on it. I’m learning I don’t have to check my email five times a day. It’s hard, but it gets easier.