Admitting a serious e-addiction | AspenTimes.com

Admitting a serious e-addiction

Meredith Cohen

It dawned on me recently that there exists something other than Blistex without which I cannot live. My home computer.I know, I know. Computer addictions are so 1998. Most people these days are way over conventional laptops and desktops and instead onto those super-duper sleek cell phones equipped with the Internet, Bluetooth technology, picture and video cameras, navigation systems and MP3 players. Not me.I can’t necessarily pinpoint the start date of my dependence. But when the screen on my iBook crapped out in early August (necessitating a long distance healing journey to the tech geek doctors at Mac), I was left without a home computer for a week. It was during that time that the depth of my addiction was fully realized. Withdrawal was a bitch.With the exception of the occasional “Sweet Sixteen” guilty pleasure fix on MTV (bridezillas in training, no doubt), I can easily live without television. And while it would take some planning and an undetermined period of adjustment, I even think I could manage a cell phone-free existence (although it doesn’t have a camera or an MP3 player, mine is nicely equipped with a fancy speakerphone). Just don’t ask me to try living without my laptop at home.The odd fact is that I do next to nothing of interest on the computer. I use Microsoft Word to, well, write stuff. iPhoto comes in handy every few months after the digital camera’s been whipped out. And I check my e-mail. I have a few different accounts for work and personal use. I’d say the frequency with which I go online to surf around and then check my e-mail falls somewhere on a scale of obsessions between George Hamilton and his need to tan and Nicole Richie and her need to starve.My parents got an Apple 2e when I was in fifth grade – long before Al Gore invented the Internet, I think – so my Web habit obviously can’t be traced that far back. I actually don’t remember getting that into the Internet until about three or four years ago. I still can’t entirely keep up with the latest and greatest things to happen online. I’m just now getting really good with Google searches. Lately I’ve even been thinking it might be time to try Google Earth. But the YouTube, MySpace phenomena totally confounds me. I don’t really get what I’m supposed to be looking at on those sites. Plus, don’t 20/20 and Dateline air bi-weekly reports on all the MySpace child molesters?I check the weather on occasion. I love that I can read all the New York newspapers online. I gaze longingly at sites that offer furniture I can’t afford. And then I always go back to my e-mail.I check my e-mail before leaving work. And then I check it when I get home 15-20 minutes later. I check it when I wake up. I check it before showering. After showering. Before drying my hair. After. The refresh button and I are dear friends.And the thing is, I’m never really sure what I’m waiting for to appear in my inbox. I’m always hopeful while the browser is opening that a shiny little envelope will be perched with enthusiasm atop my Yahoo mailbox. Or when I switch to Hotmail that the inbox number will be anything but zero. But mostly when I actually get an e-mail, it never seems to be quite what I hoped it would be; even though I wasn’t sure to begin with what I wanted it to be.During my computerless week in August, I never enjoyed the freedom. I missed my electronic albatross. Badly. I really didn’t know what to do without it. I was a little nervous that stuff was happening without me knowing. I don’t trust the bevy of cable news channels like I do those seven lines of Associated Press headlines on the Yahoo homepage to keep me posted on up-to-the-second coverage of everything national, global and Brangelina.And what if I’m sans computer again and find myself in need of a synonym from Thesaurus.com? I’m expected to go digging through boxes in the garage to find the one I never unpacked last October? And what if I need to know how to spell the word thesaurus? How am I supposed to get to Dictionary.com on my bookmark list if I don’t have a computer? I’m supposed to look it up in an actual dictionary?And what if that e-mail I didn’t know I’d been waiting for finally shows up in my inbox and I have no way to access it? What if, by the time I can log on to a computer again, the e-mail has flukishly disappeared? Then what? Start waiting for the actual mail? I mean, who sends snail mail anymore? It’s been years since I got a Hallmark paper greeting on my birthday. E-cards are all the rage. Of course it doesn’t get much lower than sending an e-card in place of a real one. Then again, the only thing worse than getting an e-card is not getting one at all. And I just don’t think I could sustain any more detoxification.E-mail questions, comments or e-cards to meredith_cohen@hotmail.com.