Internet Addicts

For a while, I've been complaining about people who overuse the Internet. People who walk across intersections while staring at their phones, or who use route guidance to get home from work even though they've practically carved a path in the earth marking the shortest route.

At first, only the young were afflicted. And that was fine with me.

Now, however, the epidemic has spread to a previously-skeptical demographic: the middle-aged and clumsy fingered.

I applaud my more dexterous peers. Use Waze to navigate through the city! Access Yelp to find a certain shop within three blocks. I embrace these improvements and reap their rewards.

However. I can't see how looking at a Twitter photo of someone else's cat is remotely entertaining.

I object, most of all, to cell phone use during dinner. This is an addiction, through and through. The fate of the world will not be revealed to any of my friends, important though they are, between the chicken casserole and the dessert. I understand that keeping up with the news is critical for some people like the President and Wolf Blitzer. But for the rest of us, I think we can wait until after the meal to learn what Jennifer Aniston wore to her movie premiere.

In the spirit of disclosure I should admit I still have a landline.

Last Sunday, a friend called to invite me to a movie. I was at my desk, playing online bridge.

"It starts in 20 minutes," she said, noting the time. We live equidistant to the movie theater. I needed eight minutes to get there.

"Sounds great," I said. I was about to open with a 15-point hand including a six-card major, but I managed to glance at the time and make a mental reminder to quit with plenty of time to get dressed and walk over.

Bridge is addictive. Anyone who plays can attest. Normally the game is played with three other people, but the Internet has blessed us with another option: You can play by yourself, with computerized partners named South, West and East.

Despite my strong hand, I went down, which, in bridge terms is the equivalent of batting a high fly ball into the bleachers. Luckily, I had time for another round. Unluckily, I was dealt a seriously weak hand with only four points. No one wants to end on a failed hand.

The next deal awarded me a lot of points and long suit, but I lost control of the lead and lost again! One more hand. This time, I had a long suit with two solid stoppers...

"Where are you?" My friend called from the theater. "The previews are starting."

"I'm on the corner," I lied, wondering who had the Queen. Was it East? Or wiley West? "I'll be right in."

Ugh! It was East! East had the Queen. I was going down!

My phone vibrated. I saw the text: "Credits rolling." The movie was starting. I should get up. I should get going. My friend was waiting!

One more deal. One more deal. I can quit, after one more deal.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

7 Things Post 50s Say They're Addicted To