I’m not only dependent on my computer for work, I’m a computer addict, not because I know what HID is, or occasionally babble about a “cold boot” or “packet loss”, but because the computer has inveigled its way into even everyday shopping for things like cat litter! For years I used the “World’s Best Cat Litter” and then changed because the standard clay stuff was SO much cheaper. Luck was with me and the cat did tolerate it, but after using it for a couple months, I found that I didn’t like it for any number of reasons; not the least of which was the mess when the tracked litter gets vacuumed up into the Rainbow vacuum cleaner (water instead of a bag).
This morning, while contemplating vacuuming, I decided that I was going to go back to the World’s Best–probably both the cat and I will be happier and less hassled. I’m close to Petco and to PetSmart and I know that both stores carry that litter; I’ve bought it in both places numerous times before–so just go get it, right? But what do I do? Head for the computer to check to see if Target carries that litter. I imagine you are asking why I think this suggests that I’m a computer addict. Well, Target and Petco are almost side by side so I could just walk from one to the other to check price and availability, right? My excuse is that it’s early enough on Sunday morning that the stores are not likely open yet so I’d have to wait an hour or two to find out, even though I cannot buy it until the stores open. I did not even think about that; I just sat down at the computer. The computer was my first thought. In retrospect, it seems my only thought. I even looked at the prices for delivery of the 38-pound box if you ordered off the Internet! I think that is probably a sign of computer addiction. This made me think about all the ways that the computer has become part of my everyday activities.
What else suggests that I’m a computer addict? Well, I’m not a coupon clipper, but I await anxiously the arrival of my e-mail from Harris Teeter each Wednesday with the specials and the personalized list of the things that I normally buy that are on special this week. I send e-greeting cards for all occasions. I check the weather not by turning on the TV, but by going to my computer. Need postage stamps–just order online from the post office. I think that the thing that most makes me think that I am truly a computer addict are the times when I find myself wishing some of my friends (who definitely are NOT computer addicts) had e-mail or checked it more often, or maybe even used instant messaging, rather than the phone.
Just the other day, I discovered that I did not have a telephone directory in the house. A telephone directory would likely have been the quicker and easier way to find what I was looking for, but what was I using? The computer! (A friend actually gave me the information that I was looking for from her telephone directory.) I think that all these things just might add up to me being a pretty hopeless computer addict!
So what? Well, every time I head for the computer it’s more keyboarding and mousing. Since I earn most of my living using the computer pretty intensively, this extra time spent on the computer is adding to all the other use. Since I’ve already had surgery for carpal tunnel and Guyon canal decompression, and for purposes of Workman’s Compensation, have a permanent partial disability rating, and know from personal experience that I get symptoms of overuse when I work at the computer too long at one time, it would make sense for me to try to avoid computer use when I can–use the telephone directory, not the computer; walk to Petco from Target to check on the cat litter price! Those alternatives probably did not even cross my mind! Just let me get on the computer….
What this is telling me is that I must find ways to make my computer use fit my limitations! Just simple abstinence is not going to work for me. I need the computer to earn my living. I do have many interests away from the computer itself: cooking, painting, reading, but I use the computer as an adjunct in all my hobbies, too. Digital records of my paintings as they progress, recipes kept on the computer, photographs from the (digital) camera downloaded onto the computer; so many things. Did I mention that I’ve installed software to read books on my computer (as well as having a Kindle)?
Frankly, I have trouble thinking of an activity with which I do NOT use the computer. Perhaps what I am really addicted to is computer use, but it still leads me to use the keyboard and the mouse, sometimes more than I should. What this is telling me is that I have to find ways to make my computer use fit my limitations From past rehabilitation and recovery after the hand surgeries, I know that about thirty minutes of keyboard use per hour if it is really intense is my tolerance before I start to get discomfort, but since I’m hopelessly drawn to the computer for so many other things, I need to find ways be more efficient in my computer use –make my computer do more for me.