Posted by: nickgerlich | April 1, 2008

Between The Cracks

Comedian Richard Pryor once said of cocaine, “I ain’t hooked, you can’t get hooked. My friends have been snorting for fifteen years, and they ain’t hooked!” Which may help explain why he later went on to suffer serious injuries in a drug-influenced accident.

Back in 1978, I saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert with Black Sabbath and the then-unknown band by the name of Van Halen. Ozzy was so stoned he could hardly stand straight. Which may help explain why he mumbles a lot today.

Sadly, we think addictions only occur with illicit drugs and alcohol. But, alas, we need not snort or guzzle our drugs of choice, for we are now seeing the rise of a new illness: internet addiction.

Internet AddictiontSo serious is this problem that Psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block wants to see internet addiction labeled a mental illness. Want to see if you are hooked on this new crack-for-the-brain? Click here to take a test.

While the test says I am just an average internet user, I know I have skated close to the edge a few too many times. And maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t being completely truthful when I answered the questions. Remember, I’m the guy who travels with two laptops. Just in case, you know. And I have mentally stored the locations of dozens of wifi hotspots around the country so I can login. Truckstops. Coffee shops. Motel parking lots.

Of course, my job kind of demands that I spend inordinate amounts of time online. You might just have to cut me some slack, OK? Still, I must confess (and confession is good for the soul, remember) that my wife and kids all know where to find me most of the time: F2F with a computer screen.

Fortunately, I do not find myself dreaming about where or when I will be online next. I don’t dream about internet cafes. But sometimes I do feel like there’s a monkey on my back.

For anyone with even the slighest obsessive-compulsive tendencies, internet addiction is a very real possibility. I should know. I was seriously addicted to exercise in the 1980s (I once cycled outdoors 860 consecutive days, through two teeth-chattering Indiana winters). Anyone with an addictive personality can find anything to which he or she can become enslaved. Inanimate objects…activities…you name it. They are all fair game.

I am trying to control this thing I call work. But I find myself waking up in the middle of the night, sleepless, and heading to the computer to check email, Google anything and everything, read student replies on the Board.I tell myself, “Hey, I’ve been teaching online for 11 years. I ain’t hooked.”

But sometimes I wonder.

Dr “I Think I Need To Go For A Ride” Gerlich


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