Some addictions not so bad

Bob Chell

Bob Chell

My name is Bob and I am an Internet addict.”

“Hi Bob.”

I jerk awake with a start, the reoccurring dream once again startling me out of a sound slumber. Whew…only a dream. I will admit to hovering on the edge of addiction. I am 364 days away from the seniors special at the Hy-Vee Chinese deli, of an era that imagined computers would take over the world much like giant robots, our deepest fears articulated in the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Still, I compulsively check my email, shop almost exclusively online and, when traveling, plan my next Internet fix with the devotion of an addict.

Some would say our worst fears have come true in even more insidious ways than we imagined as we debate whether our symbiotic relationship with computers is parasitic, commensal or mutalistic. I don’t know about that, but I do know I love my laptop. When my son asks me if nuclear energy is renewable, the first Google hit tells me “…3 Renewable energy sources include the sun, wind, water, … 4 Nonrenewable energy sources include fossil fuels, nuclear power, and minerals.” Sweet. is my address book, my bookstore and my source of news and entertainment.

It’s that lead me to and The former invites you to send your secret on a postcard which is then posted on the web site, the latter invites you to make anonymous confessions. Visiting them becomes compulsive, feeding one’s surreptitious desire to know another’s deepest secrets. They are heart-wrenching and heartwarming, scandalous and shocking, vulgar and vile.

Yet, spend thirty minutes at either and you will find yourself feeling drained, empty, disconnected. That which is initially titillating becomes mundane, than boring and, ultimately, sad. One cannot help but sense the author’s disconnectedness, loneliness and angst. Their computer has become their friend and confidant. Spend an hour and you will yearn for human companionship. What kind of solace or absolution does a computer provide? Who are these people who seek intimacy and community from their computers? Am I among them?

I wonder, how does one discern that which is worthy of one’s devotion, one’s time, one’s energy? Does my computer enrich or impoverish my life? Is my answer yours or yours mine?

I spent spring break gutting flood-ravaged houses in New Orleans with fifty-two others. I am rethinking my devotion to that which is incapable of loving back. I am rededicating my devotion to the One who loves first.

Pastor Bob Chell University Lutheran Center [email protected]

#1.884581:2116879260.jpg:pastorbob_tc.jpg:Bob Chell, Religion Columnist:Ty Carlson