According to the Associated Press, in July, Fall City, Wa. saw the launch of ReSTART, purportedly the first residential treatment center for Internet addiction in the U.S. The first patient had been playing the online World of Warcraft game for up to 17 hours at a time. His parents gladly paid $14,000 for a 45-day program to wean him from pathological computer use.
The regimen reportedly consisted of complete abstinence from the Internet, a long list of chores, daily counseling and sleep deprivation tactics that involved waking him periodically to ask, "Are you sure they're good for the $14,000?"
Of course, the "cold turkey" approach of ReSTART might only fan the flames of some patients' Internet obsession. ("Cold turkey... recipes for ...origin of the term ...10 countries exporting the most cold turkey ...porn movies involving...")
It's a wonder it has taken so long for someone to establish a treatment center. CBS News cites studies saying 10 percent of people online are addicted. As far back as December of 1996, "Newsweek" cited dozens of articles about the alleged malady.
China, South Korea, and Taiwan already have numerous Internet addiction treatment centers. In China they sometimes use electroshock or beatings to steer patients toward more productive pursuits, such as getting the lead out of their pants -- presumably so they can put it into America-bound toys!
The Associated Press listed 11 signs of Internet addiction (such as "neglecting family and friends" and "lying to others about use.") My circle of experts has provided me with some more Signs That You May Have An Internet Addiction:
1. Surfing the World Wide Web gives you a World Wide Derriere.
2. When choosing a cemetery for your loved one, the main considerations are proximity to your home, diligence of groundskeepers and availability of Wi-Fi.
3. You can't even begin a trip to the bathroom without MapQuest and Priceline.
4. You buy $10 trillion worth of stuff you can't afford on eBay. (No, wait, that's not Signs You May Have An Internet Addiction. That's Signs You Live In The White House.)
5. You wire your eyelids open so you don't miss one second of the Watching Paint Dry webcam.
6. Most of your Facebook friends weren't born when you started your current session.
7. When the phone line is down, you try establishing an Internet connection with two tin cans and a string.
You really should be ashamed of yourself if you're spending inordinate amounts of time in cyberspace. By avoiding Real Meaningful Social Interactions, you're missing out on all those scintillating face-to-face conversations, such as "Hot enough for you?," "Workin' hard or hardly workin'?" and "Your momma 'n' them still dead?"
Why would you want to stretch your horizons with genealogical resources when you could get your cheeks stretched by Great-aunt Hildegarde at a family reunion? Why take a virtual tour of the world's great art galleries when you could tour the bathroom graffiti in a crowded greasy spoon diner? Why download the biography of escape artist Harry Houdini when you could hang out with buddies who are experts on escape -- as in gases escaping from their bodies?
If you're obsessed with blogs, chat rooms and multi-player games, please go for help. Otherwise you're a dead duck. ("Dead duck ...recipes for ...origin of the term ...10 countries exporting the most dead duck ...porn movies involving...")
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at email@example.com. Don't make a habit of it.