Do they still make Very Special Episodes and After School Specials?
I hope so. They were the cornerstone of my education in Things Not To Do, like drugs, drinking, drinking and driving, bingeing and puking, killing yourself, and getting molested by the nice man who owns the bicycle shop. (Poor Dudley.*)
Those TV shows served me well: I’ve never tangled with drugs, had a problem with the booze, or done any of those other things they have treatment programs for. But I have fallen prey to several addictions that, I think you’ll agree, are almost as ruinous. Which leaves me to ask:
Where were the Very Special Episodes I really needed?
How easily I could have been saved if they’d made serious shows about the following:
Video games. I got addicted to these at age 10. This was back when a video game was a big machine you put quarters into. I started off with Space Invaders and by the time I was 12, was stealing money from my parents for Tempest and Donkey Kong. I went by myself to arcades where kids dealt coke and packed heat, and where greasy men rubbed up against me. They got their jollies while I focused on getting Mario up ladders and over burning barrels. I never noticed these men, but an older kid once informed me, “hey, that old guy was rubbing his crotch against you while you were playing.” As long as the pervert hadn’t messed up my game, I didn’t even care.
Carrots. In college, I had a serious habit. I’m talking, like, a pound a day. They were low in calories and fun to chomp on self-righteously when the girls on my hall ordered Dominos. I know, pathetic addiction. It didn’t cost much or take up a lot of time, but it did give me major indigestion and turn me orange like an Oompa Loompa. Especially the time I came back from St. Lucia and used QT tan extender. Not a good combo, carrots and QT.
Salsa dancing. Got hooked in my late 20s. It was bad. I spent hundreds of dollars a week, didn’t show up for work, destroyed friendships, hung with a crowd that customized their rims and only ate at BBQ…If I really get into it, this will end up a book and not a blog post.
Infoholism – the most insidious disease of all. In the past year, I’ve become an infoholic. That’s not someone with a severe 411 habit. It’s a person who can’t stop signing up for information products online. If you’ve dabbled in the internet marketing world, you’re familiar with these. If not:
Info products are anything informative or instructive. They come in all different downloadable formats: pdf reports, recorded interview mp3s, videos, webinars, e-books. There are also book-books. You know, the real kind, made out of paper. They’re the original form of info product. But since you can’t right-click a real book, they’re not as addictive.
There are info products for anything you want to do, or do better: lose weight, crochet, breed guinea pigs, be productive, be nice, get laid, work from home, build websites, make money. Especially that last one. There are lots and lots of products that teach you how to get rich. Many teach you how to get rich teaching other people to get rich. Or teaching people to teach people to get rich. Often, by creating your own info product.
Info products make you feel productive because you’re “doing research” and “developing skill sets.” And you can always tell yourself that they’re an investment: “I’d spend that on a dinner or a pair of jeans, so why not on something that’s going to make my profits EXPLODE?” That’s why they’ll eat up all your money and waking hours. Again, an addiction that deserves its own post.
It also deserves serious attention. NBC, can you hear me?
There should be an After School Special or Very Special Episode about info products.
One that’s as hard-hitting as the ones I used to watch. Like the Little House on the Prairie where Albert Ingalls gets addicted to morphine. Implausible, but utterly affecting. Albert falls in with a crowd of big-city hooligans, and of course becomes a junkie. Desperate, he steals the stuff from Doc Baker’s medical bag and replaces it with sugar. Doc discovers the switcheroo when he dips his fingertip in like a seasoned DEA agent and licks it. Yup. Sugar. The gig is up.
Detox time for Albert.
This dramatic 2-parter made a real impression on me. It taught me that old-timey drug taking is just as dangerous as the new-timey kind. But more importantly, it showed what no other family series had before: the hell of withdrawal. There were after-school specials where teens went to rehab, but they never showed the leg cramps and vomiting.
When I saw what Albert went through, I made a vow to myself that even if my friends pressured me at a party, I would never, ever dress in 1890s period costume and snort opiates.
If you think this whole post was a ruse to show a clip from Little House on the Prairie, you’re right. But still:
Watch the video, and imagine how powerful it would have been if, instead of schedule 1 narcotics, Albert had been addicted to e-books.
*Arnold And Dudley Get Molested bonus