Category Archives: Addiction

1000 Words: We’re All Junkies Now

John D. Rockefeller: Famed for Giving Dimes to Street Kids.

When I was a kid, whenever I wanted my mother to buy me anything that wasn’t a bare essential, she’d snort and call me either Rockefeller or King Farouk. John D. Rockefeller, of course, was the world’s richest man once, and Farouk was the flamboyantly wealthy Egyptian king in the mid-20th Century.

Ma had a problem with perspective. She couldn’t just say, “Sorry, Mike, I really can’t afford that Tonka dump truck just now. Maybe someday.” I could have understood that. What I couldn’t grasp was being compared to two of the wealthiest and most profligate spenders on Earth just because I wanted a toy.

Ma was, after all, a product of the Great Depression and World War II, and we spawn of that so-called Greatest Generation have heard all the stories they loved to tell about how hard they had it and how heroic they were in overcoming it all.

They were, more accurately, the Greatest Self-Congratulating Generation.

Anyway, were Ma still around to count her pennies, she’d drop dead upon learning that a telephone can now cost a thousand dollars and more.

I resisted getting a smartphone for the first few years of the technology’s existence. Then, around 2014 I figured I’d join the crowd since my insistence on holding on to my flip-phone was becoming, to friends and acquaintances, a potentially worrisome quirk.

It’s not that I’m averse to new technology. Hell, I was among the very first people to have a cell phone. I got one in 1997 when you weren’t even allowed to put down a cell number on an application. And, before that, I purchased one of the very first laptops four decades ago when they still weighed about as much as a small refrigerator.

But my philosophy long has been this: If I haven’t said to myself prior to the introduction of some new device, “Golly, if only someone would invent a… fill-in-the-blank,” then I don’t need the thing.

An Early Laptop.

I’m no Luddite, mind you. I recall walking down Michigan Avenue one day about 40 years ago, thinking, “Y’know, it’d be great if I could have a little portable phone that’d fit into my pocket. I wouldn’t have to miss any calls.” Around the same time, I dreamed of a portable super-typewriter I could carry in my backpack and would let me write wherever and whenever I wanted and that could hold all my rantings and whatever articles I was working on. A laptop, in other words.

And, yeah, I eventually did come around to buying a smartphone. That was about ten years ago. I had the thing for a few years and found it unwieldy, too easily marred or broken, and — most of all — way, way, way, way too addictive. So, in 2017, I walked into the Verizon store and asked for a flip phone. The clerk looked at me as if I’d asked to see his selection of hourglasses. He had to ask his manager if they still carried the things. The manager came out and asked me if I was sure. I assured him I was and he nodded, skeptically.

See, I’d never said to myself, Golly gee, if only I could be tethered to the internet every second of the day. If only I could remain in constant contact with every friend I’ve ever made and millions of others with whom I’m as yet unacquainted. If only it had all the music I’ve ever accumulated, every picture I’ve ever taken, every detail of my life, all electronically stored in an electronic cloud. If only I could have at my immediate beck and call the exact height of the Burj Khalifa, the population of the state of Nevada, the precise date and time Prince died, all on a device I can use while hurtling down the expressway at 72 miles per hour, eating dinner, or having sex.

I’ve never envisioned the day when such a device and its software would addict me as effectively as alcohol, heroin, or nicotine. Yep, researchers have determined that our dependence on smartphones is, indeed, an addiction. And the apps that pretty much every business in existence insist we download are crafted to reach us at a cellular, hormonal level. One study in the journal, Addictive Behaviors, indicates that smartphone usage produces brain restructuring disturbingly similar to that resulting from recreational hard drug use.

Flintstones Winston Cigarettes Ad.

A group of former Facebook and Apple workers four years ago revealed their ex-employers specifically designed software to addict users at an early age, just like cigarette manufacturers did a half century ago.

Smartphones have turned us away from trusting our own eyes and ears. A gorgeous sunset, the Grand Canyon, a NASA rocket launch, hell, even the cute-ness of our dogs, cats and kids can’t be enjoyed in the moment. They have to be stored on our smartphones. I saw the motorcade of former president Jimmy Carter pull up on Wabash Avenue one afternoon a few decades ago. Everybody stopped in their tracks, watched him get out, and walk into a bookstore. They applauded him respectfully and then went about their business. Now, of course, everybody’d be too busy trying to catch the moment on their smartphones rather than seeing it.

The thing is, I remember that moment with clarity. In my mind it’s as though Carter stepped out of that limousine just this morning. Were I too busy clicking a photo of it, perhaps my memory of it would be lost. Either that or never imprinted in the first place.

“Stop living an almost life,” Bill Maher said in a bit last August.

Trust Me, I Know What Bacon & Eggs Look Like.

People walk into a party and they immediately text their friends saying “Where are you? What are you doing?” They watch a guy hit a home run at the ballpark and instead of cheering, they’re clicking. They sit down to eat breakfast at a restaurant and they send the picture of it around the globe, as if the rest of us have never seen bacon and eggs before.

The here and the now are no more.

Smartphones are expensive and they’re vital drivers of our economy. Consumer capitalism being what it is, corporations have found new and creative ways for us to get hooked on their stuff. And Ma, were she still with us, would at last rightly be able to say, “Who do you think you are, King Farouk?”

Farouk of Egypt: He’d Have a Thousand Smartphones.

Hot Air

A Prayer

Opponents of same-sex marriage, acc’d’g to news reports, are holding prayer vigils today near the federal courthouse in Cincinnati.

They’re begging the putative creator of the Universe to intercede in Earthly affairs and prevent three appeals court judges from allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. The arguments from four states that have outlawed such marriages are to be reviewed beginning this morning.

Many pious folk are falling to their knees, desperate that their heavenly father should hear them in these perilous times.


Think of it! In fact, allow me to employ my own formidable powers of imagination to portray the sound and feel of those prayers:

My dear lord, font of all love and forgiveness, the source of all light, my rock of morality and truth, hear my plea.

I beg of you to consider my heartfelt longing above those of passengers in an airplane that is heading into the side of a mountain, to prefer my humble wish before those whose children are dying, as we speak, of ebola infection, to act upon my deep desire at this moment, even as young women are undergoing forced genital mutilation, or are being raped, or who are watching as militias are dismembering their innocent sons and daughters. I ask you to bestow upon me your tender mercies and grant my entreaty above all those whose bodies are ravaged with cancer, with heart disease, and with lung disease. I yearn for you to hear me above those who suffer from mental illness, from poverty, from hunger. I kneel before you and wish you answer my call even as missiles arc over Gaza, as armies assemble near the Ukraine, as drug gangs behead innocent civilians, as hundreds of thousands of nameless and faceless individuals batter, stab, poison, strangle, suffocate, burn, and otherwise torment their fellow human beings.

Please, o lord, do not permit the judges to allow men who wish to kiss one another, who hope to hold and caress one another, who aspire to create a home with one another and have our god-given state sanction those acts.

Father in heaven, hear me. Look with scorn upon women who desire to remove their clothes in the presence of and in unison with other women, for this causes them to feel pleasure and allows them to express tender love for each other. All merciful one, please hear me and cause the judges to forbid women who love one another from visiting each other in the hospital, from inheriting each others’ belongings, and from receiving any potential tax credits or benefits as this will lead to the end of our faithful civilization.

With piety I beseech you, dear god. With love in my heart, with boundless compassion and clemency, I call upon you to fuck those queers bad.


I wonder if god will listen.

The Sanctity Of Life

Don’t know if you’ve caught this yet, but a woman named Jenny Kutner wrote about discovering she was pregnant last week in The first thing she felt after making the discovery was anguish. She wrote that the positive reading on her home pregnancy test made her heart “start pounding so loud I really could hear it in my ears, just like in the movies. I left the bathroom with the test in my hand and went to go show my boyfriend, who held me while I cried and shook and tried to catch my breath.”

That doesn’t sound like the joyous beginning the anti-abortionists would have us believe all conceptions are.

Kutner continues: “What I definitely, definitely don’t want, immeasurably more than I don’t want to have an abortion, is to be pregnant or have a child.”

So she makes an appointment to have an abortion.

Planned Parenthood

Her piece, entitled, “I’m Having An Abortion This Weekend,” reveals her thoughts and fears in the days preceding the procedure. For my dough, she truly grasps how important human life is.

You’re On Your Own, Users

More than 11,000 Indiana residents have received treatment for drug addiction since 2010, thanks to a federal grant program called Access to Recovery.

It’s not easy at all to shake the monkey off your back. Addicts need help. They can’t do it alone.


We’ve learned, too, that it costs more to repair the damage done to individuals and society by drug addiction than it does to help addicts get off the stuff. Of course, that doesn’t matter one bit to our esteemed legislators in Washington. Earlier this year, Congress slashed funding for ATR. Now Indiana won’t get any more federal dollars for its programs.

ATR-funded programs in 11 Indiana counties will be forced to cut off aid to many addicts as well as to fire a significant number of staffers.

And you thought this was a do-nothing Congress.

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