I watched a news story, tonite, about soft addictions. According to the news reporter, B. Galvin, soft addictions are “… the little behaviors that probably aren’t going to land you in debt or danger, but they can still impact your life”. Nice little word play, there. Is it supposed to be like soft porn? Not quite as raw and dirty, but sexy, nonetheless?
The subject matter expert, Dr. Nadine Kaslow, an Emory/Grady psychologist, listed soft addiction examples such as: eating, Facebooking, texting, web surfing, etc.
My husband, El Jefe – who was half-listening to the TV – glanced over at me with a disconcerting smirk on his face. Oh, I knew what he was nonverbally suggesting. He thinks I have a texting problem. Of course, he had to lift his face from his own damn iPhone to shoot me the look, but who’s casting stones, here, right?
Is the impact always bad, though?
Dr. Kaslow took a moment to fixate focus on texting. Apparently, there are people who have an ‘urge’ to text and will send hundreds of texts per day. An urge, in this case, may be defined as an involuntary, natural, or instinctive impulse. I don’t know that I have an ‘urge’. Do I?
Well. Yes. If I think of something I need to tell someone, I pick up my phone. I don’t dial a number and anxiously await a “hello?” on the other end. I send a text.
I have another (brilliant) friend (all my friends are brilliant, in case you were wondering) who likes texting because it allows her to control her level of involvement in the conversation (Stacey P, I’m talking about you. You’re brilliant). She nailed it! I don’t want to get trapped in an actual conversation with anybody. Frankly, I can’t think of that many things to fill the air space. It’s awkward. Texting allows me to table a conversation until I have something worthy to convey. I can take my time to think about how I need to respond to a question. I can also conveniently ignore a text, altogether, if I can’t think of an appropriate response (or don’t want to answer a question). Yes! Of course I ignore your texts. No! Not all the time. And if you don’t ignore the occasional text, maybe you should. You may be too quick on the trigger. Slow down. Think. Ignore. Save yourself.
Try it. Here’s an example:
You receive a text: “Hey, friend! I’m projectile vomiting and have explosive diarrhea. Will you come over and keep my 3 poorly trained dogs out of trouble until I feel better? I may also need you to empty the bucket…”
<crickets> – the sound of you ignoring the text – because of course you will NOT do that. Has your ‘friend’ learned NOTHING about stomach bugs, cross-contamination, and boundaries???
<several days later> – Now you may be ready to respond …
Your response: “How are you feeling? Do you need supplies? I can arrange a care package airlift to your home! Xoxo”
(Your delayed response doesn’t need to answer the original outlandish question. Instead, you can offer a (safer) alternative. Finally, close with a caring ‘kiss-hug-kiss-hug’… which is texted, so you won’t get sick)
Note: before you jump all over my ass about being an uncaring friend; if children or personal safety were risk points, I most definitely would respond and assist. Although, I’d probably get there faster if the emergency were a simple severed limb or something. Stomach bug-induced vomit makes me drag my heels, a bit. Garden variety vomit – not a problem.
I’ve wandered off the path, haven’t I? Dr. Kaslow goes on to mention that some people even text-fight and the implication I picked up is that this may not be healthy. I disagree (duh!). Here’s just a few reasons why text-fighting is actually VERY healthy: 1) No interruptions. You can text what you want to say and then hit enter. The jackwagon you’re fighting with can’t cut you off, interrupt, or otherwise derail you. Text-fighting keeps you on track. 2) No shitty non-verbal communication. You don’t have to see your opponent’s eye rolling, guffaws, and hand gestures. Some non-verbal gestures can escalate a fight. That won’t happen if you maintain a safe distance and text your grievances. 3) Time to think before you jam your foot deep down your esophagus. Face-to-face fights lend themselves to regretful verbal spewing. With texting, you can type what you’re thinking… think some more… and then backspace. There ain’t no backspace in person, honey.
So how can you tell if you have a soft addiction ‘problem’? Kaslow suggests we look within to determine that. Do people get upset with my soft addiction? Sometimes. But is that MY problem or THEIR problem? One person’s problem may be another person’s solution. For instance, when HRH (my daughter, Her Royal Highness) tells me to put my phone down, stop texting, and pay attention to her; her perceived problem of me texting (and not answering her question) is actually my perceived solution of not screaming at her, “No! You cannot have another goddamned cupcake!!!!”
Texting, at that point, saved her from my wrath; bought me some cool-down time; and allowed me to answer (that same damned question) for the 6th time (in the last 30 minutes) calmly.
The news story goes on to suggest you might have a problem if… friends or family assigned a nickname relating to your addiction. El Jefe’s nickname among a few of his peers is “Google”. He’s notorious for looking up information on his iPhone whenever someone asks a question. “I wonder what is now considered the tallest structure on Earth?” / “Why wonder? Let’s find out!”
Doesn’t seem problematic to me. Rather, it seems well-informed.
And that’s just texting. You already know how I feel about Facebook and peanut butter. Just like any other addiction, I look to you to enable me. So, tell me. Do I need a soft 12-step program? Maybe just a 6-step program?
BTW, here is the link to the news story:
Galvin, Beth. “Health Watch: Soft Addictions” My Fox Atlanta. 26 April 2011. Web. 26 April 2011.