Addictions are boring. There is no excitement in repetition, even if it is a pleasant feeling for the first time, which most addictions are not. The only “kick” that addictions provide is satiating some inner habit, some inner routine that you stupidly formed. As if you needed to add more things to your “to-do list”. 1)Send the files to Paul 2) Go to the grocery store 3)Down several glasses of wine when I get back home because my life is dreadful. The wine isn’t a release, it is something to “drown” yourself in. Which is what most addictions are. Things you do again and again because you are just too lazy or bored.
And people aren’t too good at knowing what an addiction is anyway. One of the common lines you hear these days is “I am so addicted to House of Cards, I can’t stop!” Oh yeah, you will. Once you are done with the series, which also includes re-watching your favourite parts and discussing them online or with friends, you will stop when you have had enough. This isn’t an addiction, it is what used to be called a “daze”. It is momentary. It will either fade out by itself or be replaced by something new, like True Detective for example. You could say watching TV shows is an addiction because that means it is something you do quite regularly, year after year, to the detriment of other things that are better for you, like a creative hobby or spending time with your family actually doing something productive than passively watching TV.
Addictions are frequently fodder for storytelling. Take films like The Panic in Needle Park, Trainspotting or the final word on the subject, Requiem for a Dream. Requiem for a Dream used to be a favourite with most addicts because it not only showed the spectrum of addictions, but also both the ebb and flow of those addictions. Ellen Burstyn’s character wasn’t just a “obsessed with House of Cards” kind of a person. She watched the same show for years and, in addition to being also addicted to prescription medication, let both addictions overlap to make her life even more complicated. It is a surreal moment in the film but this interaction of addictions was interesting because it was horridly imaginative, and far more interesting than the reality of the character’s situation could ever be without them.
One of my favourite jokes by the brilliant Irish comedian Dylan Moran is “I don’t do drugs. If I want a rush I just stand up when I’m not expecting it.” It explains addiction even better than is apparent. You are addicted to something because it is supposed to give you some sort of rush. But how can you really get a rush when you are doing the same thing over and over again? What bored people need isn’t a routine, it is novelty. A much more economical and interesting way of getting a rush is actually trying something new. Something different. For as long as it is interesting. And then move on and do something else.
The thing about books and films and culture on addiction in general is that they always show the moment of first contact with the addictive substance as an epiphany in the person’s life. But that is never the case really, because you never like the thing that you are addicted to for the first time. You just don’t. I didn’t even like tea and coffee when I first had them. Repetition happens because you are surrounded by people who have formed those habits and you are either bored or eager to fit in. And how much variety can you have with addictions anyway? With the really big ones, you’d have to be a connoisseur(which most addicts aren’t) to know where it was made that adds its extremely subtle but distinct flavour. Even with things of variety, like food and TV shows, there is only so much you can take before they all start feeling the same.
Even the word “addiction” has become boring. The word, or rather the abbreviation that people have brought from Psychology to popular culture is OCD. It is offensive. Very, very idiotic and offensive. Everyone these days seem to be “a little OCD” about something or the other. Whether it is noticing people’s shoes or smoking 3 packs of cigarettes in a day, it is cool to make a little, offensive joke about it. A person who actually has been diagnosed with OCD would not make a joke of having “a little OCD”. Such has come to be the state of addictions because we actually do have more variety, more options for novelty now. And that, as we know, must surely be a good thing.