What's Your Fix?

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My husband and I have a friend who is smart, attractive, funny and very successful at his job. He is also addicted to World of Warcraft, spending seven or eight hours hunched over his computer, engulfed in his own little world. He can easily talk WOW for long periods of time, discussing strategies and how things are going in the game. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know jack about World of Warcraft, except for what I saw in a South Park episode that labeled them all as greasy social loners.

While it is easy to make a joke about the geek-factor of World of Warcraft, have we paused to look at our own electronic vices?

I recently attended a dinner where the girl next to me texted throughout the whole night. I know people who get the sweats if they don't have cell phones. Some, like me, get antsy if they're near a computer and haven't checked email.

We're all getting a "fix" of some sort. Whether it makes you feel important, helps avoid loneliness or distracts yourself from daily anxiety, excessive use of media or electronics is giving you a type of "fix."

So while it may seem that World of Warcraft has the major geek factor going on, the other fixes don't make us look much cooler. There's nothing cool about loudly gabbing personal details on the phone while standing in line at the coffee shop, hunching over your iPhone at a restaurant or being unable to hold a basic conversation with someone because you're staring at a computer screen.

This story is two years old (and, yes, I realize the Fox News logo will probably turn some off), but it makes a few good points. One person interviewed discussed cell phones as the new "cigarettes," with more people taking "cell phone breaks," fiddling with their phones and using them constantly. They sleep with their phones, work out with their phones, and, most likely, go to dinner with them as well. Gee, it kind of sounds like they're dating their phones.

I used to be that way. Each time I got into my car, I had the strongest desire to pick up my cell phone and call someone, anyone. Usually I'd call one of my friends to chat. But, once I reached my destination, it always seemed tacky to cut the call short. "So, thank you for talking to me while I drove. I no longer need your service." Click. Forget making me look geeky, my phone made me appear a bit rude.

My husband and I decided to get rid of our cell phones earlier this year. He had deactivated his earlier after losing it but never reactivated it. I, on the other hand, was a little more worried. As I said, I liked to talk on the phone while in the car. It just seemed so natural.

After we canceled our plans, I realized I didn't need the phone as much as I thought. Once I took the temptation away, my need for the fix diminished. Besides, if I really need to talk to someone, we have the house phone and an emergency-only phone I keep in my purse.

I'll let you in on a little secret: Sometimes, I still hear "phantom ringing," even when I'm not near a phone. What's phantom ringing? When you think you hear a phone ringing, but it isn't. It's what will make you quickly reach into your bag or grab your phone to check, just because you think you heard the ring.

I'm not suggesting that you break your contact, toss the laptop in the garbage or have an iPhone bonfire. All I'm suggesting is that it is time to think. We can't eliminate some of our fixes, but we can be more conscious of them. Think before you give in to the fix. Every time you open that gadget, consider what you're getting from it. There's a chance it might be more than a quick phone call.

And? If that doesn't work, let vanity guide you. Sure, you might not be a total World of Warcraft geek, but that iPhone just might make your butt look fat in those pants.