Did chocoholics cause internet addiction?

| Thursday, February 25, 2010
I'm sure you're familiar with alcoholism. Hopefully not from personal experience, since it's difficult enough for those nearby, let alone the person himself. You know, a damaging addiction to alcohol which causes health problems, social problems, and generally fucks up everything.

Somehow that got lost a bit. We created the suffix "oholic" as a way to say "I really enjoy [food/activity]." Let's ignore that this doesn't even make any sense sine it implies that alcoholics are alc-oholics. What is alc?

Someone eats chocolate a lot and suddenly they're using similar wording as you'd use for someone who drinks his life away. The middle-aged woman who buys overpriced imported stuff that is barely distinguishable from a decent local brand (not Hershey's) isn't a consumerist hedonist (the word choice implies more harshness than I intend, but the actual concepts behind them fit). Oh no, she's a chocoholic. She can't help it! Mmm, chocolate!

I'm not suggesting that chocoholics think they have something comparable to alcoholism. The idea isn't there in their minds. But it is in the word. A damaging addiction has been re-purposed to describe something trivial. Addiction in general has gotten this treatment. I suspect much of it is part of a search for identity, for ways to describe oneself quickly, which is pretty stupid. If you can accurately be described quickly, then you're very simple and boring and probably not a very good person in any aspects. If you're not able to be described quickly, then the attempt is a waste of time and only adds misinformation.

Where was I? Oh yes, so shopping addiction, porn addiction, gambling addition; these exist. But the average person doesn't have them. The person who claims to be addicted to shopping is more likely just someone with poor impulse control, too much time, and no concept of credit cards eventually having bills. Again, something crippling has been misused.

The general effect is to weaken the impact and meaning of the word addiction. When addiction ceases to be a physical or psychological dependency with withdrawal effects, when it comes to mean "enjoying something a lot", then it can be applied anywhere. And so we have internet addiction.

Again, I'm not saying there are no internet addicts. There are. They need help. But most people are not addicts. If they seem to have a dependence, it's only because the real world isn't very enjoyable for them to inhabit. The problem isn't the substance or behavior, it's literally everything else. But that's too much to think about, when we can just call ourselves chocoholics and write horror stories about crazed internet youths.


Unknown said...

For things like these, i just attribute them to language changing over time.

The only two i can think of off of the top of my head are sensitive topics, but they'll have to do.

Retarded used to be a descriptive word. Same with crazy. Now a days, people use 'retarded' and crazy for anything. If you want to get the original meaning, you ussualy use 'mentally ill, mentally handicapped, or retardation'.

Another example are various other words for African-Americans. Back a couple decades ago, the non-slang N-word was common place. If you said african american you'd be stared at. Now, say it today (and if you're not a rapper/african american), don't be surprised if you get punched in the face.

Words change over time. Maybe another word will be invented. more likely, people will use " blank addiction". the word addiction still has the negative connotation, the -holic suffix does not (in most media). People more directly effected by some form of alcoholism or other problem might take it more seriously.

-Shopaholic? fine
-Alcoholic? Bad

Media wise. Yet they should both be on the same level of severity.

Also, i always assumed the word was
"alcohol-ic". Meaning "something to do/ or containing alchohol". Like the word phallic. Phallus=..well, you know what. and phallic "phallus-like, to do with a phallus" etc.

After reading, i could see it be a shortening of "alcohol addict" to "alcohol-dict" to alcoholic.

I don't have a source for either though, so i could be reaching for straws. Also, apologies for the suggestive language, it's the best i could think up off the top of my head. Moderate/delete if you feel it necesary.

SlikRX said...

I agree wholeheartedly.

Here's another potent word that is being "gerrymandered":



Klepsacovic said...

@tyra: Change over time isn't bad on its own, but the transition period is. I imagine someday we'll say fag and have no clue at all that it ever was used against gay people. And that will be fine. But in the meantime, the same word is used as a generic insult and as a slur.

I don't mind 'offensive' language if it's not used offensively. Your post is safe.

@SlikRX: Ah, terrorists. Used to mean people who incited terror. Those were simpler times, when we got to shoot British people and their Germanic mercenaries.

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