My Addiction

“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.

5 thoughts on “My Addiction

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  1. This one I dislike, because you know what? Your friends who are still there miss you. Could I call you? Sure, but I don’t like the phone, and if we started calling each other a lot, would you stop because you’re addicted to the phone?

    LJ is where my friends are. Am I addicted to speaking with my friends? Yes, I am! Most people are; they just have the luxury of being able to go out for coffee with them. I’m glad that you have broken the control that something had on you, but I don’t see how talking with friends is one of those things you need to break the control of. People – even most introverts – are made for fellowship and conversation. Sometimes that conversation happens with the written word.

    I also object to LJ being lumped in with FB. The reason we have made such close friends on LJ is because it’s *not* just social working. It’s literally posting letters for each other – daily letters which sum up our day or contain our thoughts about stuff. And then instead of having to mail our responses back to each other, we can comment. LJ is not Facebook. LJ the way you and I use(d) it is not social networking. At least not for me. And I feel like I’ve truly lost a friend with your absence. Maybe that’s lame, but it’s true. I miss you. I don’t think friends are an addiction you should have to break.

    1. I did not leave LJ because it was an addiction, but because I have drifted away from it in the last six months and I hate to leave things just to “stagnate.” I knew that it was rare I would update or read through the few entries on my friend’s list, so for me it was less painful to delete it than to look back on what it once was, and the ghost that it had become. Each day that I faced an empty blog post and had nothing to say was a reminder to me of how it used to be, and how it will never be again. I have changed enormously in the last six months, and in doing so, I don’t know how to reconcile a Charity that doesn’t share herself as openly with others with a venue that is all about sharing.

      Most of your friends are still on LJ. Most of mine aren’t. Most of mine have left, their journals empty ghosts of former conversations and happier times in which LJ WAS a place to share thoughts and ideas and dreams and wishes. I didn’t want my journal to become a ghost.

      Just because I am not on LJ anymore doesn’t mean we cannot still be friends or be a part of one another’s lives, it just means we will have to put a little more effort into our relationship. I am willing to do that through e-mail… are you?

  2. Great post, Charity. I agree that sometimes a seemingly innocuous thing can become harmful. For example, sometimes when I need to study, I find myself wanting to aimlessly surf the web, and recently realized that to get a lot done, I often need to close myself in a room without the internet. =P

  3. Okay, your blog entries are just piercing me today in all sorts of directions! Stop it. Okay, don’t stop, but now I have even more I need to work on. God’s really trying to wake me up.

  4. So true. I don’t “get” the obsession with Facebook, but I know people who cannot go an entire day without logging on – and some of them are people I’d have never guessed would be that way!

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