In the late 70s early 80s I worked with a chap who started going to a newly opened video game arcade up the road in the lunch hour. When he took a lunch hour that was, as it was during a particularly busy period when we were all stretched to breaking point with work overload. After a couple of weeks what started with quick pop in sessions on the way back from the sandwich bar, frighteningly quickly morphed into late night orgies and even middle of the night visits, supposedly to help cope with insomnia. Single and living alone, his work was his life. He claimed the games were his only relaxation. My take was that he was addicted. And as a friend I told him I was worried about him. I thought his new pastime was actually fuelling his insomnia. Finally things in the office calmed down and Paul spent a lengthy posting abroad so the gaming spell was broken.
Several years later I was working for the John Lewis Partnership as the Assistant Editor of the Chronicle, the ‘local paper’ for the ‘Partners’ working at the Head Offices in Victoria. For the first time I discovered Solitaire on my computer. For a while it was easy to ignore. Not the sort of thing one did at work, not if you were a good girl. Then, I suppose in a moment of temporary quiet the temptation to dabble in one quick game seemed quite harmless.
Silly, silly woman, did I not remember my own addictive personality? One harmless little game, lead to another and then another; soon I found that I had to play until the game ‘came out’. Then once was never enough. I found myself thinking that if the game came out three times in a row, for instance, than such and such a problem would be solved. Fortunately eventually the penny dropped and I came to my senses. I realized what a terrible time-wasting procrastination tool the game was, and that using it as some kind of cryptic crystal ball was to say the least a bit wacky. So, probably in the nick of time, I ditched the programme from my pc before I missed any deadlines or made any huge howlers in the magazine.
But now I have it on my i-phone. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t download it. It was already there, a little square app, Solitaire, winking provocatively on the screen like an ever open sweetie jar.
That’s fine, though, I thought. I am older and wiser, I have its measure now.
Wrong! I think because my routines have all been tumbled lately and I am confined to barracks I fell into temptation.
And I am addicted – again. I have just a quick game here and another quick game there, but each time I can’t stop until it has come out at least once. And just like with any other addiction I can persuade myself that it is good for my brain. That if I try and do it faster, in fewer moves and beat my records that my mind is getting a work out.
Now I must kick the habit for the second time and I figured that a start would be to ‘come out’ and confess by way of a blog - and to ask if anyone else would like to ‘come out’ and join me in my withdrawal?
But whether you do or whether you don’t I am giving myself the lecture that I gave my colleague all those years ago; that silly game is dulling my brain and taking up time that I am forever complaining I don’t have enough of. So it has to go. I just have to work out how to ‘trash’ it from my phone. Simple!