Adi decided to face his addiction. He tried denial. He tried to ignore it. He tried running away. But nothing worked. The defining moment had come when he was at work trying to concentrate in the conference call that he was attending when his hands automatically did a refresh on Facebook. It was not so much the action but rather the facts that he could not accept that were no new updates from the last time he had checked it. And the last time was 5 minutes back. It all came to him in one huge flash.
His new laptop, the computer, the internet, the email, the YouTube, the Facebook, the Twitter. Everything. It was time, he told himself. He decided things would be better if he decided to face the demons of Gmail, Facebook and Twitter by himself. He had to. He had to get his life back.
Adi went back to his house to tell his mom about his decision. He just entered his house to only find a kitty party going on. He went straight to his room postponing his decision by a few minutes. After about an hour he came out to see him mom. She was still talking to Malini aunty. It did not matter now.
“Mom, I have to tell you something” said Adi
His mom turned to him “Not now Adi, go drink tea and freshen up, you look tired”
“Noooooo mom” Adi stressed.
Adi’s mom turned to him a little shocked at his rather vocal disappointment. She raised her eyebrows which was the obvious “How dare you raise your voice in front of a guest” gesture. Adi knew it too well, but desperate times meant desperate measures.
“No mom, I have to tell you this. I ..I..I have to go to rehab. “he said.
“What, what do you mean? Rehab for what? And please tell me it’ is for curable and simple things like drugs or alcohol” said Adi’s mom. Malini auntie’s expression was a mixture of curiosity and delight at finding a new topic of gossip.
“N..N…No mom, it is serious. It’s the web 2.0 addiction.” Said Adi looking away facing the window.
“What! No, no that cannot be true” whispered Adi’s mom and sank in to the couch. He closed her face with her hands. One could her broken words like “bad mother” “how” “god” “what” etc. The incident seemed to have a brought out a nice color on Malini aunty.
The door opened and in came Adi’s dad. Adi’s mom walked towards him quickly sobbing. Mr. Suresh was quite obviously taken aback from the rather strong sense of discomfort that was floating in the air. He knew such situations. These were the exact kind of situations that he hated being. He wished he would get an email from his work calling him back. He took out his iphone and refreshed his outlook.
“Oh stop doing that? No wonder our son is addicted. It is all because of you and all along I thought I had been a bad mother. Oh god, what will I do. How can you do this to us?” wailed Adi’s mom.
Sensing that this was going to be a rather long evening, Mr.Suresh respectfully asked Malini aunty to leave. That was when Maini aunty had an expression that was fitting the situation. She did not take kindly to sacrificing such a juicy gossip.
“What are you saying Sunita, what is wrong with our Adi?” said Mr. Suresh obviously concerned. One thing about Tamils is that they don’t take kindly to anything extreme. Everything had to be in limits. You don’t laugh too hard, you don’t smile too much or too long. You don’t talk too much, you don’t wear too bright colors. Anything that was a little excess was always a no. And Adi clearly had stepped the limits. I mean an addiction was the last thing Mr.Suresh wanted his son to have.
“Adi, is this right? What were you thinking? Can you believe what an insult to the family this is ?” said Mr.Suresh. “I mean how will I face , Govindhan downstairs tomorrow . Gosh! That too the most dreadful web2.0 addiction? How many times have we warned you? Is that not the first warning I gave you when you bought a laptop? I mean off all the addictions, you had to get hooked on to this? My god! It’s all company, I know it is. It’s that Anand and the gang of boys you hang out with. They have done this to you. Those boys and their stupid blackberrys and iphones. I can’t believe this. Why cant you hang out with other kids who just do drugs and drink or something. Seriously Adi, you disappoint me” said Mr.Suresh and walked out.
Adi walked in to his regular meeting and waited for his turn to come. It was not easyto battle this addiction. But at least he faced it. When his turn came he got up
“Hi, I am Adi and I have the web 2.0 addiction”
The group gasped. Some ladies put their hands to their mouth. Others just pouted and nodded to show that they understood.
“Hiiiiiiiiiii Adi” the crows responded.
“So, Adi, how often do you refresh your Gmail or Facebook?” asked one of the members in the group
“Urgh.. Umm.. “stammered Adi obviously worrying about the crowd’s reaction. It did not seem a friendly crowd this one.
“Come on Adi, we are all here to help you, No one will judge you” said the moderator.
“Almost every 5-10 minutes” said Adi hanging his head down. He did not have the courage to see everyone.
“Oh my god!” said one.
“God save you” said another.
“Really, wow” was another.
“Yeah, way to be non judgmental guys, Thanks!” said Adi and sat down.
“Yeah, yeah, sorry Adi, but 10 minutes my man is really bad. I think social networking screwed you really bad, So how do you feel if you have not got a mail in 15 minutes?” asked the moderator.
“I feel very irritated. I get jittery and the tension makes me refresh at least 2 times more. I worry if it’s me, you know. I feel that I am not loved. Makes me feel very low on confidence” said Adi.
There were sighs and sounds that meant people sympathized for him.
“And what about others like Twitter and Orkut?” asked the moderator
“Oh I have this obsessive need to twitter like every moment of my life, I just have to. Otherwise it is like the great moment that I just experienced has no value. It is like everyone has to be jealous of me, or feel sorry for me, or just know all about me. “said Adi .
“Don’t you think it’s becoming a little too much of you, Adi?” Asked the moderator.
“I don’t know. But then I can’t stop myself from it. I go out with friends and want to take photographs so that I can post them on Orkut. I care more about the photos than the event!” said Adi
“Do you stalk people in orkut Adi? Do you look at random girls who are friends of your friends and check out their albums?” asked the moderator.
Adi was dumbstruck. “I.. I…I am ashamed” said Adi.
“I am sorry, you can’t be helped. I must say your state seems rather out of hand. I am sorry Adi…” said the moderator.
Adi immediately took his iphone out and updated his status in Facebook and Twitter. It read “Apparently I can’t be helped L”
The whole group was shocked. “What are you doing Adi?” screamed the moderator.
“I can’t… Stop.. I can’t… I.. I… simply can’t”
“Adithya, are you ok?” asked Shilpa walking to his cube.
“Urgh..Hmmm. Yeah, Hi Shilpa. I am ok. What is up?” asked Adi trying to cover up the fact that he slept off at work.
“Heavy lunch huh “asked Shilpa winking. I saw your update on facebook, how was the new Vietnamese restaurant?”
Adi responded “Yeah, good. Good. Listen I probably have to get back to work. I shall catch up with you later”
He alt tabbed and saw his Mozilla struck on facebook. It took him a few seconds for him close Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Orkut. He went back to his excel and started spending time in his work. It had been a while and Adi never realized he actually had that good an attention span when suddenly there was great hustle in the area around his cube. He saw all this team mates rushing somewhere. He stopped one of them and asked them where they were all hurrying to.
“Dude, dint you check your facebook, Anand just updated the status, apparently there is free food in the conference room near his cube” and rushed off.
Adi went to his cube and signed back in.