I am addicted to the Internet

Posted on January 20, 2008

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I know I am because I try to conceal how much I like it from my friends.

So, what’s wrong with the internet? Nothing. NOTHING, PEOPLES. And I’ll stand by that until the end of my days! It’s just that recently a friend of mine was discussing the internet usage of another friend: “She’s on there all the time, even when she’s around other people.” I realized then that I consciously refrained from doing them same for fear of being thought crazy (and rude). My sister knows the real truth, however. She’s the one who sees me coming home at midnight, exhausted, yet finding the energy to take out my laptop and just gaze at it for an hour, even though I have work the next day. She also sees me on weekend mornings, where the first thing I do before I put on the kettle is to check my four email accounts and facebook and read some blogs and chat to my friends using two different programs and check the status of my downloads and put them into the proper files. I brush my teeth and pee before I do all that, though. I’m not an animal.

I also take my laptop to work because I can’t access the internet on my work computer. I was genuinely thinking of quitting before I was told that the internet was freely available for laptops. I look longingly at my friends’ blackberries, but I know if I had one I would formally become a vegetable. I’m like those people who don’t drink because they know they are weak and think they will soon find themselves snorting cocaine off a hooker’s breast. And I’d do that sooner than be without internet for more than two days. Even when I’m on vacation, with FRIENDS, I relish the thought of returning and finding a bumper crop of communications from people. Why? I’m with people! Ridiculous. It’s not like I have a boyfriend abroad or something, and I certainly avoid any communications from my parents, by whatever method they come. But I still get a little spurt of glee whenever I see those little bracketed numbers indicating new emails. Never has punctuation meant so much.

I know how this started: it started in September 2001. I’m specific like that, you know. Frankly, I feel like I had a pretty good reason to get hooked. Read me out: I had just transferred from the American University of Cairo to McMaster University in Canada, leaving behind a lot of friends and making very few new ones. I can’t remember why I did it, actually. But there I was, with high speed internet around the clock for the first time in my life; bone-crunching cold outside; an ocean and two continents away from everyone I knew. On top of that, my residence had something that I have since longed for daily, tears gathering in my eyes: an internal peer-to-peer file sharing system. I think you’ll understand when you hear that episodes of any show you liked could be found, and downloaded, in a couple of minutes. In 2001, this was some CRAZY shit. I still don’t get that from my DSL. I was particularly ecstatic because sharing a television with 40 girls meant that you could rarely secure a seat during “Friends”. Besides, since I was in an all-girls dormitory, literally everyone on my floor was Indian/Pakistani, herded in there by their parents. This meant a constant round of Indian movies playing on the chained-to-the-wall television. Upstairs, suspiciously, all the girls were white. They were the ones who had gotten the short end of the residence lottery and ended up in the all-girl residence where there was a dire lack of boys to discover their budding sexuality with. In between bouts of self-pity, they watched “Survivor”. I swear to God, one floor had a Survivor-themed common room. They had pictures of contestants on the wall and they would take down the losers as they got voted off. This obviously drove me deeper into the arms of my room, and the internet.

So in between boring classes on political philosophy I watched all of Seinfeld, all of Friends, all of Scrubs, all of Sex and the City…to this day, I can’t watch regular television. To have your programs interrupted by commercials? The audacity. Besides, I like to watch them when I want.

And onwards, through law school. In my defense, however, everyone in law school had laptops wherever they went: we took class notes on them, and downloaded or uploaded assignments, important notices, recorded lectures, past exams, cases and the all-important case summaries. Besides, I had my blog. My social life in law school was never quite up to Egyptian par, people not being as fond of going out during the week and being intensely suspicious of each other (law school is like that). I had time. A friend on mine said to me (via msn of course): why don’t you start a blog? I said, “OK”. And I did. Which just gave me so much MORE to do on the internet.

Whatever, right? I have a job. I have friends. I still get sunshine, and I shower. So what if I can spend 12 hours a day online?

Originally published in Campus Magazine, January 2008. Sorry, peeps, I am forced to double dip by the utter paucity of thought in my head.

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