Addiction has become a central concept for the ills of society. Oddly, addiction has also become a keyword in modern LDS discourse, occupying a vaguely defined middle ground between sin (we don't approve of addictive behaviors) and illness (we want to cure them). So this morning I'm just a few pages into Hubert Drefus and Sean Dorrance Kelley's All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (Free Press, 2011) when up pops this entirely unexpected critique of blogging as an addiction.
[T]he peculiar phenomenon of addiction is highlighted by a modern form unknown before the technological age: blogs and social networking sites. At first there is an excitement associated with them. When one discovers the world of blogs, for example, one finally feels as though one can be up-to-the-minute with respect to every breaking event on the current scene. ... Similarly with social networking sites. Finally one feels completely in touch with all of those friends you didn't realize you had been missing for so long.
If one falls into the grip of these kinds of obsessions, its phenomenology has a sinking dimension. For one finds oneself constantly craving the newest, latest post, wondering what the most recent crisis or observation or tidbit could be. One cycles through the list of websites or friends waiting for the latest update, only to find that when it is completed one is cycling through the sequence again, precisely as expectant and desiring as before.
This is obviously written by someone who is familiar with the condition. It also has a hint of parental frustration that I'm sure you've heard before in the form, "Why are you wasting so much time doing X?" with X being (depending on your generation) watching TV, playing video games, blogging, My Spacing, Facebooking, or tweeting. Seriously, before technology got rolling, what did parents complain about? Did kids do nothing but homework and chores before Philo T. Farnsworth unleashed the idiot box? Aren't blogs at least a literate form of distraction (when they are not in the serious business of sharing bold new thoughts on topics of interest to bloggers and readers)?