Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Addiction

My name is Tom and I am an addict, a Vegas Solitaire addict.  The mindless game resides on my MacBook Pro, my 'writing' computer, two clicks away from anything I'm working on at the time.  I find my curser drifting toward the Launch Pad at the bottom of my screen when I'm puzzling over a phrase or paragraph.  I tell myself that one game will help clear my mind so that I can proceed.  I click the icon, then the one with the image of a spade ace, and soon I'm playing.  

It is truly a mindless game - one card is turned at a time; a single pass through the deck and it's over. The entire game takes less than a minute to play and yields four to five percent wins.  I have won 120 games.  Feel free to do the math.  

I will engage, saying to myself "Only three games, then back to work."  When the third game is over it's "Just one more" until I've wasted an hour, or more.  I tell myself I will not play another game until I've written 500 words, but when the words don't come easily, my mind drifts, like my cursor, to the game.  Even as I write this, I'm telling myself that when I'm finished I'll play a couple of games as a reward.  If I do, it will likely be more than a couple - unless I win, in which case I stop playing and close that session.  

It's incredibly easy to get hooked on a computer game, on a social network site, on anything that involves a video/computer screen.  I remember, many years ago, when I taught in IBM Education, we were trying to decide whether to use video lectures to reach more people.  A video producer worked with us to set up a pilot program and one of the things he said stuck with me.  He said,  "Put something on a video screen and people will watch it."  Look around you and you'll see what he meant:  TV's in bars, homes where there's always a TV on in the background, smartphone screens, IPads, laptops, etc.  Even on the street, if a store window has an active TV in it, people will stop for a bit to watch.   Make the screen interactive and we're hooked.  

The whole thing reminds me of Fahrenheit 451 in a way.  Scary. 

I will not play solitaire today.