October 12, 2003

By Michael Strickland


I smoked cigarettes during a large portion of my young adult life. Strangely enough, I picked up the nasty habit after dreaming about smoking and deciding to give it a try. A few puffs and I was hooked for the next 12 years. I started smoking during my stay in Honduras as an exchange student. I smoked during my post-high school days as an Aardvark. I smoked all through my time in the Navy. I even smoked all through college. It wasn't until I turned 30 that I finally kicked the habit after many unsuccessful attempts.

Ironically, I abandoned this addiction at the same time I became a junkie of another sort. Right around the time I graduated from college and quit smoking, I bought a new computer that came with a program called "eWorld" pre-installed. eWorld was an "online service," a term which few people at that time had heard of. I'd briefly flirted with a fledgling America Online on a friend's computer back in 1992, so I had an inkling of what to expect. I logged on for the very first time, becoming "Eomer" (of Tolkien's books) in an online community that numbered well below 10,000. Soon, I was spending long hours in chat rooms, becoming a well-known member amongst a select few who frequented the chat areas. At a time when online services still charged by the hour, I spent far more than a recent college grad should have been spending on such gratuitous pleasures.

But it was a new and fascinating medium, and meeting new people mind to mind became a heady thrill (no pun intended). As someone has since commented to me with regard to chat rooms, "you can't fake intelligence." There's more than a little truth in that, and I met some pretty colorful people through the monochromatic medium of scrolling text. In fact, I had lunch with one of them just two weeks ago, eight years after we met in the digital halls of eWorld.

eWorld came and went, as did so many Internet companies in the 1990s. All of us eWorld refugees migrated to America Online, but quickly became lost in the ocean of AOL's million-plus membership (which has since exceeded 30 million, last time I checked). Nevertheless, I was hooked, and slammed cyberspace like a heroin junkie mainlining China White. I spent countless hours online, first discovering AOL's myriad message boards and content devoted to writing, then venturing out into the Wild Wild Web.

But my addiction—my hobby, that is—paid off. Unlike smoking, which did little more than give me a momentary head rush and coat my lungs with tar, my cyber-addiction quickly evolved into a profession. I wrote online content for companies like CompuServe and Disney.com, and taught myself how to design Web pages. I rode the wave of the 1990s as the Internet exploded. The surf eventually slammed me onto the beach and left me high and dry, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

I got wise and gave up the cancer sticks a long time ago. But today, my Internet addiction continues unabated. Heroin junkies have track marks up and down their arms. Cocaine addicts develop extra holes in their nostrils. Me? I've got sore fingers from typing and a sore wrist from cranking the mouse. But I think I'm way beyond help. This monkey's on my back for good.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Send a Comment

October Columns:

10/31: Halloween's History
10/30: Good GDP, Still No Jobs
10/29: Disaster
10/27: Ash Monday
10/26: En Fuego
10/25: Diving in the Desert
10/24: Dead Car Canyon
10/23: Reflections
10/21: Le Métro
10/20: Pain
10/17: Jury Duty
10/15: Labor Pains
10/14: The Business of Losing
10/13: Owls and Jobs
10/12: Hooked
10/11: The "S" in SUV
10/9: Flee the City
10/8: Sore Losers
10/5: Turkeys
10/4: It's Not the Economy, Stupid
10/2: Focus
10/1: Twenty Years
Previous months in The Archive

Like what you've read?
Find more good reading on

In Association with Amazon.com

(and support future Daily Stricks!)