This is a guest blog written by Alex, a participant in my cyber recovery groups, and the subject of several pages of my book (159-163). In the piece that follows, Alex gets to the heart of his problem. Alex will also be posting tomorrow.
At about ten years of age, I reached a tipping point when the responsibilities and rigors of reality became an inconvenient interruption to my fantasy life. I preferred the control and communion afforded to me by Ultima Online, not to mention the social networking aspect of the game. I didn’t have to share or care about anyone else. If a magic potion could have allowed me to become part of the game, I would have drunk it down without question.
My only problem was my mother. For some reason, she saw a problem with my 6-8 hours-a-day habit. She annoyingly persisted in reminding me about homework, chores and eating a balanced meal. As to this latter point, I didn’t need much food because the game gave a whole lot of sustenance. I had no intention of doing what she wanted, so I started to lie.
At first, I started with simple lies, telling her I had no homework. But since taught at the school I attended, this became impossible. So, I used to stay after school, spending most of that time in the computer lab playing Age of Empires. I told her, of course, that I was in there doing my homework. It would all eventually catch up to me, but then I would lie about the lies, and so and so forth. Lying became automatic. My mother, on the other hand, started to automatically nag at me. We both needed help.
Kevin Roberts, author of Cyber Junkie, had taught at the school and at that point in time had become an ADHD Coach (I have ADHD). My mother asked for his help. He quickly became my nemesis, the probing force that filtered through all my lies. He, too, had excessive gaming issues, so hehad an easier time seeing through my deception. I had to take my lying to a new level.
Early in 9th grade, he called me. “Alex,” he said, “did you do pages 19-21 in your Biology workbook?” By this time, I had been honing a new and improved method of deceit. I replied, “Yes, I did. But, page 20 was really hard so I think I am going to have to go in tomorrow to talk to the teacher.” I admitted that I didn’t finish all of it, and hoped this would throw off the trail. I did not know, however, that Kevin was in my neighborhood. Out of the blue, he decided to stop by. When he asked to see the homework, I made up another lie: “Oh, uh, Brian didn’t have his work book, and he just came by to borrow mine.” I knew he didn’t buy this line and he knew that I knew that, but I would not admit to the lie.
My energies went into two pursuits: staying totally plugged into cyber world and lying to anyone who tried to pull me away. I am now almost 24, have been homeless, have no job training, no college degree and am pretty lost. I am trying to climb out of a hole I have been digging for the last 14 years. It is not an easy task. In my next guest blog, I will get into some of the details of what I have been going through.
- Please join Kevin at the Border’s in Birmingham, MI on October 29 at 7PM. He will be giving a short talk, answering questions, and signing his book.