It was especially strong in college. But back then everyone was doing it and there was a lack of awareness (like when everyone used to smoke in old movies because they thought is was good for you).
You see, I was addicted to an off-line life.
Symptoms: I never, ever checked my email account. I didn’t even feel like. What was the point, anyway? I didn’t use the internet to get direction. I would make an appointment, and then keep it, just like planned. And I didn’t have a cell phone.
Google? Facebook? Twitter? They weren’t even invented yet, so I can’t really be blamed for not knowing about my addiction, but it was there, and it was strong.
Everyday I went about my life, just MY life, in the flesh and blood, in only MY neighborhood, going to school, going to work, going to church, over and over again. And who could I tell about it? No one. I’m mean, no one who was important. I was lost and drifting without the ability to connect with hundreds, even thousands of people, at any moment.
That’s what addition like this does: it isolates you into a little world where you are moving from one isolated fix to another, always feeling empty when you’re done.
I can’t really blame it on my family. I was raised in a very on-line ready household. I actually grew up in Silicon Valley! My parents bought a personal computer in the early ‘80s (Commodore 64 and then an Apple IIe). So I guess there was just something in me, in my genes, that made me prone to an off-line life.
But thankfully, I’ve been mostly cured, or rather, I’ve admitted my addiction and I hardly ever relapse into an off-line. I’ve gotten the help I needed and I’m glad to say my on-line life is thriving. I can now connect with people all over the world and can write emails and blog posts that potentially could change the course of history!
I’m a much better pastor now too. Sermon preparation is no longer merely for a local congregation, but for a potentially infinite audience once I upload the audio file and post it on FB and Twitter. Church activities are now opportunities to upload photos to Instagram. And I can gleefully announce on-line all the people that I meeting with off-line (I’m sure they don’t mind). And I now have an on-line outlet to talk about pastoring activities (like hospital visits, marriage counseling, leadership meetings, and discipleship) that make these some much more tolerable, even meaning. I’m not sure I would know how I was doing as a pastor without those likes, favorites, and comments.
So all in all, I’m glad I kicked my addiction to an off-line life and I encourage all of you to get the help you need.
P.S. Please lift me up in your positive thoughts and feelings because I’m going backpacking next week. Obviously this is asking for a major relapse. I will be doing visualization activities to offset the temptation to use: i.e. seeing myself reading from Feedly and posting to Buffer; picturing myself looking at endless streams of 144 character tweets; and, coming up with witty FB updates, even if I can’t post them. Thx.
P.P.S. I also want to confess another weakness…I have not fully converted my writing to “text speak” (aka, txtspk). I know if I did it would mean the fullest commitment to an on-line life, but OMG, I just can’t do it. Hopefully this is NP and I’ll eventually fall of the virtual wagon. OK, ADBB.