I, like most people, have struggled in my life to create lasting change. Realizing that most, if not all, circumstances in my life resulted from a series of choices, I ultimately learned to take responsibility, and thereby acquired a measure of control. I was in my early thirties before I woke up. Prior to that, I was a victim, blaming my family, friends, and employers for my lack of fulfillment.
I had great fortune to have a 30-year veteran of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in my corner. He showered me with numerous AA aphorisms, but today, as I ponder this issue, one sticks out: If you don’t have the life you want, start making changes because it’s not going to fall in your lap.
I thought about this line for weeks. For reasons that are still not clear, it rattled around in me and would not go away. Perhaps, after wasting a decade of my life in front of a computer screen, I was just ripe for change. Those words peeled back layers of denial and self-deception and somehow shook me into awareness that I was the one who needed to change. Blaming others for my unhappiness was getting me nowhere. I realized for the first time that I was in charge of my own destiny.
As I scanned online today, I found an article that reminded me of the culture of blame we inhabit, in which shunting responsibility onto others has risen to the level of a high art form. A Hawaii man filed a lawsuit, alleging that a video game publisher bears responsibility for the 20,000 hours he put in over four years on a game called Lineage II. The man claims that the game should have come with a warning about its addictive potential. While I will not weigh in on this man’s legal claims, I, too, could blame Sid Meier, Westwood Studios, and Microsoft for thousands of hours of computer-game bingeing. Perhaps this man is correct: these companies should put warning labels on their more addictive games. I find it much more useful, however, to take responsibility for my own choices, and to get support when the urge to game hits me. That’s the only way I have ever changed anything.
- Please join me at Border’s Ann Arbor on September 8, 2010 at 7pm for a book talk and signing for Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap.