Thursday, April 9, 2009

Confessions Of An Online Photo Site Junkie

...or why a six letter word could quite possibly be more offensive than that four letter one.

Addictions…we’ve all got them in one way, shape or form. One of my many obsessive compulsions include photo sharing sites. I wondered if I was among few or many with the same problem. I decided to poll my cyber community pals from various photo sites to see just how many of them considered themselves as “addicted” as I do. Not surprisingly, I confirmed I’m not alone. What did surprise me however was their willingness to purge their statistics on the number of sites they were members of, how many hours they spent per day online, and if they had ever used the evil word addiction to describe their online habits. One of my dear online friends often jokingly quips, “I’m not addicted, I’m not addicted, I’m not addicted”, yet freely confesses that once she’s online the hours pass her by like minutes. Yup, been there, done that, bought the membership.

So before I divulge the poll stats, lets examine the words addiction and compulsion, relative to my own confession.

Wikipedia describes addiction/compulsion in this way:
The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his or her individual health, mental state or social life.

Oh, there’s the word I was looking for, “social life”. That’s the kicker right there folks. Unbenounced to all those whom walk in my shoes, most feel they have an amazing social life because they have hundreds of friends online. Sadly, it’s kind of like when we were kids and had make believe friends who entertained our little minds when we were bored or lonely. Which reminds me of yet another word often used to explain why so many become addicted to their cyber friends and mistake this connection for a real “social life”…the word is l-o-n-e-l-y. Lonely? Who me? Are you fracking kidding me? That’s such a sad little word. Six shrinking violet coloured letters short and not the least bit friendly. Suddenly I feel like bursting into tears and wailing a country song between self indulgent sobs. Where did I put that Kleenex box anyway?

Enough with all the nasty negativity. Let’s focus on the top 5 positive points of online addictions:
1) People don’t have to see you to like you, OR know you to enjoy your images
2) You can socialize in your pajamas, underwear, or in your birthday suit and nobody knows but you (and your Peeping Tom neighbour)
3) If you’re talented with Photoshop, you can make any picture of yourself look Brad Pitt handsome or Paris Hilton hhhhot
4) You can make up super cool names for yourself and have a different super cool name for every site you’re a member of (wasn’t grade 5 fun!)
5) Your friends are from all over this big beautiful photogenic world, so even if you’re up at 2:00 AM on a Wednesday in Canada, you know at least one of your photog peeps is awake at a legitimate hour in Australia! You are never alone.

That’s a pretty impressive list of reasons to build your very own cyber fan club! You know the kind…where you get loads of perfect strangers hooking up with your home page, sending you sweet props on your camera skills (don’t you just love the lingo in cyberspace? LOL). But I must digress, as this brings me back to my addiction to online photo-sharing sites and why I had to use that offensive little, purple shaded, adjective, lonely.

How many of us have shared this conversation?:
Husband: “We’ll, I’m off to bed dear”.
Wife: “Ok, I’m right behind you. I’m just going to check one thing on my RedBubble account and I’ll be up in a few minutes”.
Login Time: 11:40 PM
Logout Time: 2:25 AM
What I missed: Rougly two hours of loud snoring and a couple of pungent farts (our two dogs sleep in our bedroom).

What happens is this; even if you are in a relationship, and you’ve unceremoniously become addicted to online site memberships, you’ve now unintentinally made your significant other lonely. To coin another cyber phrase, an internet widow. So there you have it. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly parts of online addictions (giddy-up)…or to be wikipedically correct, online compulsions.

To sum it all up, here are the official stats I acquired from my faithful, wonderful, amazingly talented, charming & gorgeous photographer friends:

Average number of active photo sharing site memberships: 3.33 sites
Average number of hours spent online on photo sharing sites: 20 hours (holy crap)
Percentage of respondants whom considered themselves “addicted”: 100%

The confession blog comment box is now open. Feel free to purge your online compulsive sins, breath deep, do a yoga pose or two, then get back online because you and I both know your memory card is full!

Cheers, Sandra
P.S. Thank you to all those who participated! YOU ROCK!

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