Every morning I begin my day with nicotine, caffeine and readerine, three drugs I am and have been addicted to physically and psychologically for most of my adult life. No, no false sympathy needed. Yes, it’s ultimately destructive – but the ride can’t be beat. (My contemporaries may appreciate a reference to the Bob Fosse biopic All That Jazz, and in particular the “It’s showtime, folks!” scene that I now provide a clip from for my non-contemporaries:)
Yes, I do exaggerate a bit. I could probably kick the nicotine and the caffeine, but that Readerine. THAT stuff has got me licked. And if I can’t lick that, I’m sure you will agree that there is little point in making myself even more miserable by abstaining from the drugs that make the effects of the Readerine at least marginally tolerable.
Every morning I hit the news sites, the feedreader, the Facebook posts, the Google+ and LinkedIn, check the email, open the site, read the days articles…and all before most of you have even thought about waking up (or going to sleep – it’s time zone dependent).
I know I’m not the only one. I tried one of those twelve step programs, Friends of Gutenberg or some such, and there were plenty of other readerine addicts there. It’s a national org, so you know the numbers are measured in legion. But when they handed me a pamphlet that described their program, I knew it was a crock.
I remember the very night that prompted me to attend. I was traveling for business and the airline had lost my bags. By the time I’d gotten to the hotel, just about everything in town was closed and I had nothing to read. Nothing! Except for a matchbook cover that was advertising local services. When I realized I’d read that thing from cover to cover five or six times, (it didn’t satisfy the craving), I knew I had to do something.
Hey, I tried. I really did. They say the first step to a cure is admitting that you have a problem. But what do you think is going to happen when you hand a jonesing Readerine addict something to read? That’s like trying to cure a sex addict with free prostitutes! I fell off the wagon before I’d even gotten onto it.
I’ve spent a lot of time since that day wrestling with my problem. I manage it pretty well – you won’t find me missing work or cracking up on the hiway from DWR, though I have been known to ignore my wife and friends from time to time while absorbed in the throws of a readerine high. And it’s not like it impairs my mental faculties at all. (Truth is, studies have shown that readerine users tend to be pretty high-functioning. It’s insidious, I tell you!)
You can pretty much say that I’ve covered all the bases in my search for a cure – programs, abstinence, cold turkey, substitution (boobtubing doesn’t cut it – that’s why they call it idiotboxing) and I’ve come to one final conclusion. There is none. Except maybe for one.
You all have to STOP enabling me. Sometimes the only thing that works with an addict is tough love. So give me some! Stop writing. Stop posting. Stop commenting and podcasting and vlogging. Stop. Please. Just. Stop.
And you know, if you all did, I think it would solve a lot of other problems as well. The benefits are potentially enormous, both in lives saved and monies not spent.
No SFWA kerfuffles, for one thing. If we could harness the drop in blood pressure as an energy source from that one thing alone we could probably power the entirety of New York City for a year! (I mean, just try to imagine a world without SFWA kerfuffles – I dare you!)
Lives saved? Sure. No more reviewers suffocating under a collapsed To-Be-Read pile; no more readers plotzing when they hit that scene you spent so much time on perfecting the emotional reveal. Monies saved? Why, I bet if the Big
6 5 4 pooled the dollars they spent on buying content they could finance maybe one whole blockbuster film. I can’t begin to imagine the savings realized when internet bandwidth can be used for something other than sending out ebook files or blog posts.
How about the environmental impact? Enormous! Whole swathes of the Amazon rain forest would be preserved and we might even be able to remove pixels from the endangered species list. Not to mention that whole swathes of Amazon would disappear over night!
It sure would be a boon to the entertainment industry as well – films and television programs that appeal to the lowest common denominator would increase their audiences tremendously once there was nothing better to compare them to.
Social grease? Absolutely! No more arguments between literary and genre; no more arguments between genre and genre. No more angry-making screeds, no more misunderstood sarcasm. People might actually get along for a change (though that might be too much to hope for.)
I know there’s a lot more benefits to be had, but the bottom line is this: you all are enabling a terrible addiction. Millions of people addicted to Readerine could be transformed into productive, responsible members of society if you all stood up and took some responsibility for your careless, irresponsible writing.
Now excuse me, someone just posted a comment and I have to read it before I can respond…