I am addicted to games. Google games, games on the iPad, games on my PC. The temptation of mindless hours of fun is a lot more appealing the more time I spend on such things.
ad·dic·tionəˈdikSH(ə)n/nounnoun: addiction; plural noun: addictions
- the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.“he committed the theft to finance his drug addiction”Synonyms: dependency, habit, problem, enslavement to, obsession
It started out innocently enough. I had extra time one night and wasn’t quite tired enough to sleep, but the day had been filled with activities and tasks that exhausted me, body and mind. So I gave in to a craving for mindless fun and signed up for a time management game on the sidebar of my Facebook page.
Looking back, I find the irony amusing and disturbing. Time management indeed. It sucks you in with the promise of a continuing story as you complete an endless circle of repetitious “quests” only to stymie you when you don’t spend money out of pocket to hurry your progress. I can easily see why people ask for Google play gift cards or guiltily hide those credit card purchases for $3.00 in gems to help you build a better Island city or buy that elusive dragon. After all, it’s only a few bucks. What’s the harm?
Maybe the money lost isn’t what’s harmful.
I took a time management class in college as part of my degree program. In the middle of all the lectures on finding time for education, recreation, exercise, family, and a myriad other priorities, I cannot recall one word spoken about finding time to play mindless games on my closest media device.
And there was a devastatingly good reason for that omission, I think.
Time management games are anything but.
I will tell you from experience that NOTHING good can come of getting sucked into mindlessness. Soon it’s not just one game, but three or four and then you’ve lost count of how many open accounts you have. Once in a while, you give in to the guilty feelings and erase it from your iPad or smart phone.
But an addiction is just that. Obsessive and enticing. A craving that builds until you don’t even realize how much time you’ve wasted and how often you count down the minutes until your obligations and priorities are finished so you can get to that next elusive level in Dragon City.
Like any strong addiction, you experience withdrawal and excessive distraction when you aren’t getting your next fix. It’s more insidious however and a whole lot more subtle than a drug addiction. Why?
Because it’s perfectly legal to waste time. No one is standing over your shoulder monitoring your behavior or threatening you with prison time if you continue down this destructive path. People might cast a disdainful glance your way if they catch you in hour three, but they aren’t going to get the law involved.
The only consequences you see are the ones that effect you personally. Your lack of time spent building your relationships with family and friends, your lack of attention to your work, or the fact that those books you promised to read still sit on your shelf gathering dust. It might even end up disturbing your sleep, but even in that, your body can adjust and adapt.
In my case, it effects my spiritual walk as well. I can’t actively walk my faith and commitment to God while spending hours trying to reach level 48 on Paradise Island.
But the most difficult part is letting go and destroying that addiction.
I sat on the couch tonight after the kids were in bed, the screen of my iPad bright and glittering. Inside I fought a war, though I believe I hid it well. I had time tonight to work on my new business and instead, I was playing mindless games. I had time to read a good book, or talk with my husband, or finish that cross stitch craft I’ve been working on for years.
I laughed at myself, but I was shaking with fear. Not fear that giving it up would hurt, but fear that I wouldn’t give it up. Fear that my obsession had grown too big for me to overcome it. Fear that in the end, I would just fall backward into the mindless habits I’d grown accustomed to. Then what would be the point of getting rid of the object of said obsession?
I erased every game and handed the iPad to my husband. “Take it and reset the device to its factory settings. Then sell it please.”
It’s not just about getting rid of the game from whatever device it’s on in the end.
It’s about getting rid of the temptation to take it up again. You can drop your burden, but if it’s still right in front of you, there’s nothing to stop you from picking it right back up and weighing yourself down.
The temptation won’t go away. The obsession changes only as I replace my time wasting with productive, rewarding activities and tasks. My brain has to completely rewire itself, so ingrained is my addiction. It’s not just a product of a few measly afternoons. I’ve struggled and lost to it for years.
My struggle isn’t over, but this year is a year of change and growth and healing.
This year, as I begin my BeachBody journey, I’m not just focusing on strengthening my body and losing weight. I’m also committed to getting rid of the things in my life that distract me from my goals and my family and my faith. It’s difficult and I’m going to fail. But like Sagi Kalev says in his Master’s Hammer and Chisel workouts,
“Fail forward!” And that’s what I intend to do. One step at a time.