Several months ago, over coffee, a friend and I were talking about addictions and she suggested that a relative of hers (who might have a drinking problem) who watched several films a day was simply substituting films for alcohol. That the alcohol and films were being used to avoid life. After thinking about what she said, not that I necessarily agreed with her, I wondered if anything anyone did, other than breathe could be considered an addiction. What about reading? Reading for pleasure takes you out of your everyday life. What about crafts? What about reading and commenting on blogs? What about writing a blog or a journal?*
My mother used to complain that I read too much. That I should get out and hang out with friends instead of reading constantly. Was I avoiding friends/life by reading? Was I addicted to reading? Was I a wordaholic? Did my reading interfere with the rest of my life? Maybe.
In 1995 we got our first new computer and I bought the game Myst. My kids were young and I’d just gone back to teaching. I remember one day during spring break playing Myst the entire day. Was I avoiding life that day? Was I neglecting my kids? Was I a mystaholic?
Then there was the year I discovered Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I read many of her books that summer. I remember thinking: at least I’m setting a good example for the kids — reading in front of them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this — I know I have a predisposition for addiction — it is in my genes. Maybe my friend is right. Maybe I, like her relative, use films, television, books, wine, and the computer to escape from real life. It’s pretty sad though, if that is true. I’ve got a damned good life. Why would I need to escape?**
*I know that an answer is balance and moderation. Read, but read in moderation. Watch films, but watch in moderation. Et cetera.
**I think I know this answer too — it is not life I’m trying to escape, but my reaction to it. My ever-present feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem.
7 thoughts on “Addictions or Interests?”
I know that reading, for me, is an addiction. Books have provided an escape for me during some very difficult times. I don’t like to imagine what my life would be like had my addiction of choice been something less innocuous. That said, I’ve spent a LOT of money on books that would have been better put in a savings account or used to relieve some of the financial stresses that actually fueled my trips to bookstores.
It’s an interesting question: What counts as living and what doesn’t?
You and IB both hit the nail on the head.
I think is an addiction is something that stops you from living the life you want to live. But if doing what you love is the way you want to live (ie reading, blogging etc), then that’s life, and that’s wonderful!
Maybe it’s a fine line between interest and addiction too. Interesting post…
If reading isn’t living, then I don’t know what is!
Books and music, food and drink, the changing of the seasons: I’m addicted.
Maybe what we’re talking about is ‘defenses’ rather than addictions. Addiction is always negative (even ‘good’ addictions) because being addicted means we are not in control of what we’re doing and what we’re doing is ultimately self-destructive. A defense gives us a break from reality when reality is too painful or overwhelming. It can be destructive, but doesn’t have to be- like playing a fiddle to take your mind off yer troubles, vs fiddling while Rome burns…. But on the other hand,….