'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
ADDICTED TO COMPLAINING ABOUT ADDICTIONS
If you’ve read many of my columns—especially my op-ed and religious columns—you know I am an optimistic guy, in a pessimistic sort of way. I like to look on the bright side of life, even if life as we know it happens to be collapsing into total chaos. I am confident everything will work out fine in the end; it’s just that we’re likely to go through a “Mad Max” or “Terminator” type of societal meltdown along the way.
A recent news report once again caused me to mutter to myself, “Oh man, we are in trouble. The United States is so screwed.”
A research report, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that almost ten-percent of young people are addicted to video games. Many folks are calling on the American Psychiatric Association to include video game addiction in its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” This would give the habit the official status of being an illness, a disease, and force insurance companies to pay for expensive treatment programs. It also, presumably, would place video game addiction under the umbrella of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means employers would be forced to tolerate completely irresponsible behavior on the part of employees. If a company tried to fire someone for the minor offense of, say, not doing any of his job duties—ever—the employee would just claim he suffers from video game disease and sue the company. Nice.
To be considered an addiction, according to the research report, video game activity must cause a person to exhibit at least six of 11 addiction symptoms. These symptoms include skipping homework to play video games, poor performance on classroom tests because of too much playing, and playing video games to escape problems.
For goodness sake, EVERYTHING we do in life can match those symptoms, such as sleeping, day dreaming, listening to the radio, talking on the phone, rearranging the sock drawer, and juggling. (What? You never juggled to escape problems? It’s a great stress reducer. Give it a try—but don’t get addicted!)
Please don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not making fun of addictions. I know many people who used to be alive, and who would still be alive today, if not for addictions. It’s a gruesome situation when we give in to various cravings and ruin our lives in the process.
Over the years I’ve struggled with some addictions myself: alcohol, drugs, and a very debilitating addiction to the Boston Red Sox. (Note: I’ve been clean and sober for over 20 years now, but I can’t shake the Red Sox habit. A half-century of frustration and only two brief moments of joy to show for it. Not a very good tradeoff.)
If you ask me, our society has a major addiction: we are addicted to making excuses for bad behavior. Every moment of our lives we are faced with choices. We can choose to do the right thing, which is often the more difficult and painful thing. Or we can choose the instant gratification route, which is much more pleasurable and easy, of course, but usually harmful in the long run. When someone reaches the point where his willpower is practically non-existent because of a lack of use, should we be offering medical excuses for what is really a character problem? How about instead we offer a swift kick in the pants? Just a thought.
Hey wait, this was supposed to be a humor column, but it turned into a pessimistic op-ed rant. Darn it, I must be addicted to complaining. Call my insurance company. I need an expensive treatment program.
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