I want to start off by apologizing. This is likely to be long and not very well written because; to be honest, it is a difficult topic to talk about. I will probably come back to this at some point and write a better article but after watching an excellently eloquent and heartfelt video by Extra Credits, I just wanted to get this out there as a sort of me too moment.
The About Me page of Jays Grand Adventure gives you some background on how I fell in love with technology and more specifically with cyberspace, it tells you that I am a technophile who is on a mission to explore himself though the interactive medium that technology and cyberspace can provide but what it doesn’t tell you, is that for many years now, I have battled what could be termed as cyber addiction.
I am not really sure when my addiction began as I have never really thought that deeply about it until now – maybe I should have, maybe that’s part of the problem – but that’s really besides the point right now!
The point is that I have forged a life for myself based around my technology – I have spent countless hours playing video games, or watching anime. I have lost whole days on internet chat rooms or online forums, I have spent thousands of pounds; if not tens of thousands over the years, that I really could not afford because I couldn’t bear to be without anything that might affect my interaction with that online world. I needed the latest and greatest technology, I needed the latest anime episode, I needed to have the latest game on release day – needed these things in the same way that a drug addict needs his next fix, or an alcoholic needs just one more drink. I needed them so badly, so desperately that getting them would often affect my real world life.
I would take days off work so that I could be front of the line on launch day, I would fall asleep at my desk because I had been up three nights in a row trying desperately to finish that anime series, or beat that boss that kept kicking my ass. I would get irritable when people interrupted me and at times damn right antisocial, throwing a monumental tantrum because I had to stop, put down the controller, turn off the anime, move away from the screen – I found it extremely hard to leave my digital world and the harder I found it to leave, the more I didn’t want to leave.
My real life relationships suffered, my family suffered, my education suffered, my career suffered. I suffered! I suffered emotionally, socially and often even physically and perhaps even mentally as well because truth be told – spending days and weeks sat on your arse, stuffing your face with potato chips, while constantly dreaming up some fantastical world that revolved around you and telling yourself all these lies about how you are important in this world of yours, how people need you, how you have made real friends and have real relationships; just isn’t good for anyones physical, emotional or mental well being.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not in anyway saying that imagination is a bad thing or that we all need to be brutally honest with ourselves all of the time but someone who is trapped in the spiral of drug or alcohol addiction cant really see how far they have falling – to them, its not that bad, they can give it up at any time because they always have control and that is how it was with me.
I didn’t realise how much damage I was doing to my life or just how far I had falling until it was too late. By the time I actually realised what was happening, it had already became so big and scary and unsmotable. There was no way that I would ever be able to win against this monster that I had created, so why even try? but that just made me even more depressed, drove me deeper into my own little world and the deeper I got, the bigger and scarier the outside world became. I started to come up with all kinds of reasons to rationalise why I couldn’t change my life, “nobody will believe me”, “everybody hates me”, “people will think just laugh at me and tell me its all just another one of my lies” and so the lies that I told myself kept coming and the lies that I told other people kept coming as well. I was ashamed of who I was because of the person that I had become.
Having realised that this warm cosy world that I had wrapped myself up in was all just a dream and that the dream was eating away at my soul and my seeming lack of ability to do anything to stop it made me despair.
Those were dark times, when my thoughts were at their most twisted and my emotions at their most raw and unrelenting and through it all there was my fantasy world.
Even at this point, even though I had come to realise where I was, I couldn’t bear to face the harsh reality of my situation or the mountain that I had to climb before I could get myself out of this hole and so I clung to the fantasy world that I had spent so long constructing around me, like it was my rock – a comfort blanket, my place to hide because it was just easier to continue with my lies and pretense than to truly look at myself and say “dude, you need to get some help or something because you’re a mess”
And you know what? Despite the fact that I managed to pull my life around, I still struggle with media addiction and I don’t think it is ever really going to go away. I am a much better person now than I was then, my life is much better now – it’s not perfect but I am working on that and I probably will be for the rest of my life.
I am not ashamed though, that happened to me and whether people chose to laugh at it or not, media addiction, game addiction, cyber addiction – whatever you choose to call it, it is real.
I’ve been there, I know and hey – you’re not alone!!!