Sunday, November 16, 2014

Internet Addicts Anonymous

My name is Karin, I say,
And I am addicted to the internet.

They all nod, encouraging.
Some sympathetic frowns.
Some knowing smiles.

Welcome Karin, says their leader,
In tinted glasses, ugly white sneakers,
No hairstyle, no makup.

You are in a safe space, she says. Everyone,
Let’s welcome Karin to the Oakland chapter
Of Internet Addicts Anonymous.

Welcome, Karin, they say in unison.

So, Karin, the woman says. Tell us everything.

I gulp, calm my racing heartbeat.


Go on, she says. We’re not going to judge you.

I can’t even imagine where to start.

Tell us what you look at, says the woman. You know. When you go on the internet.

Well, sometimes I look at recipes. But like, recipes I’m not ever going to make.

Oh, that sounds like a horrible waste of time, says the woman. What else?

Well. Sometimes I google my ex-boyfriends.

Of course you do. It’s okay. Let it all out.

And then I find out who their new girlfriends are. And I google them, too.

Nothing too shocking there, she says. What else? What are you most ashamed of.

Sometimes. Okay, sometimes I go on facebook and I just scroll up and down, up and down. I can do that for hours.

What are you looking for, she asks.

I don’t know. Anything. Just anything at all. Something that will make me feel--I'm not sure what.

Good, says the woman. What else?

The woman is excited now, face flushed, speech quick.

Shoes, I tell her.  I look at shoes.

Shoes, says one of the people in the circle. And another one, under her breath: shoes. They are leaning in, intent like the leader woman, eyes wide and frantic.

I look at people wearing cute shoes!  Cute shoes with cute socks! I could look at people wearing shoes and socks all day!

One of the people in the circle falls off her chair. Another is panting loud like a dog.

STOP! The woman yells, waves an accusing arm over the circle. I think you are experiencing VICARIOUS INTERNET PLEASURE.

Everyone in the circle gasps, denies it. NO, NO, NOT US! We are just being supportive!

One woman says, Tell us what the shoes look like.

I’m turning off the lights, says the leader. When she does, a few tiny screens float in the darkness.

PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY, she yells!  Close your eyes. Quickly, we must meditate!

The sounds of rustling fill the room, squirming noises, small whimpers.

Close your eyes and be calm, says the woman, who does not sound calm at all. Take deep breaths through your nose and clear your mind.

Tell yourself: there is no internet.

There is no facebook.

There are no.



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