I Ain’t Hooked

27 03 2010

Richard Pryor was one of the funniest (and perhaps also filthiest) comedians to ever hit the stage. Perhaps his most memorable one-liner was in reference to someone asking him about his cocaine usage. “I’ve been doing that sh** for 20 years. I ain’t hooked.” Sadly, I think he was hooked, and some bad lifestyle choices led to poor health and his ultimate death.

But that quip stuck with me nonetheless, and I use it often to downplay my addictions. Coffee. Biking. And social media.

Alright, maybe I haven’t been doing social media for 20 years, but it feels like it.

But I was reading with raised eyebrow some of the stats from a recent study detailing our nation’s use of social media, email and the like. I see that I am in good company, apparently. Lots of company.

Yes, I have a Twitter/Facebook/TextMessaging/Email monkey on my back, and that critter is always wanting more bananas.

And while I am not quite as bad as a certain 7% of the sample who would answer the beck and call of technology even during the most intimate of human situations, I do confess to tweeting in church. At dinner with my family. And, yes, even during meetings.

All it takes is for one person in a meeting to pull out his phone, and suddenly everyone has license to do the same.

While there is a generation gap in usage of these sites, as well as willingness to allow interruptions in once-sacred occasions, I find myself siding with the younger folks on this one. I sleep with my phone, just like 83% of college students do. I have been awakened by the friendly vibe of an incoming text, and responded quickly. In sleepless fits of middle age insomnia, I have facebooked with reckless abandon. I have read and sent emails at all hours of the night (try this sometime…your colleagues will think you are at your desk. Ha!).

But I also use my phone as an alarm clock and flashlight; all is not lost. So there.

Still, the data reflect what may be a growing nationwide addiction to all of these distractions. And yes, that really is what they are. Welcome distractions much of the time, but distractions nonetheless. I can see a time coming in which we will have techno rehab clinics, internet-free zones at which we must turn over our phone upon entering. But untl then, I am the Tutunkhamun of Twittering, the King of De Nile (and -nial). I can stop this any time I want to. Just like coffee and biking.

Just don’t try to make me. Please. Because I ain’t hooked.

Dr “OK, Maybe Mildly Enamored” Gerlich


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