Friday, August 28, 2015

#Blaugust Day 28: Addictive != Fun

While listening to some podcasts I happened to actually look at my podcast app and noticed an ad for some terrible mobile game or another at the bottom. As I watched, some quotes from presumably random reviews scrolled by, and I noticed one in particular: "Love it, Addictive as Hell!" It got me thinking, when did 'addictive' become a positive thing?

Best game ever!!! So addictive!

Up front here, I am by no means an expert on addiction. If I fail at clever in the course of this post, please let me know. It is absolutely not my attention to minimize or insult anyone who has had to deal with addiction directly or indirectly.

Addiction implies that you're taking actions that you know are harmful to yourself, or that you don't really 'want' to do so much as 'need' to do. If anything, addictive behavior seems to be the opposite of fun; something one tries to avoid and then feels guilty about afterwards. I don't know if my time with World of Warcraft ever reached the level of addiction, but it certainly got to the point of not being fun anymore. The fact that I was able to drop it and not look back implies that it wasn't an addiction. How much worse then, to be in that situation and not be able to quit.

I guess this weird view we have of addiction isn't really new. How many times have you heard someone call themselves a 'shopaholic' or 'chocoholic'? I'd hazard to guess that most of the people using those terms about themselves aren't really addicts though, they're trying to use the language of addiction to describe how much they enjoy the thing. It seems a little thoughtless when I stop and think about it.

So maybe the problem is that, as a culture, we still don't really understand addiction. Not what it really is or how it really feels to be addicted to something. Maybe that's something you can't really understand unless you've experienced it. What I do know is that calling a game addictive is about the last way you'll ever get me to try it.


  1. Very thought-provoking post! I'd never considered it that way and I use 'oholic' and 'addictive' all the time -- clearly far too much. People who have struggled with genuine addictions probably don't need that kind of glib crap.

    1. Yeah, it's something I hadn't really considered until that ad got me thinking about all of this. It's easy to use terms like that and never think about folks that might be hurt by it.