I've noticed something really embarrassing these past couple of weeks. I've become completely addicted to internet communication. Not a casual little habit, but a full on addiction. I'm talking checking my email while I walk to my car in the mornings. I'm talking about checking it via my phone from bed last night at about 12:30, as if there were ANY CHANCE AT ALL that someone had emailed me since I'd last checked it at midnight. I'm talking checking it (as well as my blog comments, my flickr comments and my IM) no fewer than ten thousand times in between example A and example B. The obvious reason for this new burst of dependence is that I'm isolated in a lot of other ways these days. I'm not friends with the people I work with, and I live by myself, so the majority of my days and evenings are not spent actually WITH any of the people who are important to me. This electronic stuff is all I have.
I suspect, though, that it runs a tiny bit deeper than that. I think that part of what I'm wanting from the emails or the comments or the IMs is to know that someone's thinking of me, that I'm on someone's radar. I feel sort of invisible lately without scraps of acknowledgement throughout my day. I know that this is sort of faulty reasoning as there are people who I think about literally every day and am never in touch with. I guess there's always some possibility that someone feels the same way about me. But still, the addiction lives.
The truth is that I've always been a bit of a correspondence fiend. I remember many days during summer breaks when I would literally wait on the front porch for the mail man to arrive so I could see if someone had sent me a letter (and I still get little butterflies in my stomach every day when I check my mail box, as if that day might be the one when I get some special piece of mail). I was the little girl who signed up for pen pals across the world and had friendships that were sustained entirely through letters (never have been a big phone talker, feel more comfortable writing things out). I passed notes in class as if the world depended on it (hey! it might have!), to the point where I once had a teacher take a note away from me and keep it (the horror!). So it's not really surprising that I've embraced all these new ways to communicate. They're fun. But they also mean that there are just that many fewer excuses to not hear from someone. I know that from my cell phone alone, I can call (duh), email, IM and text message. There are no longer any excuses (except for maybe camping in Big Sur, where I get no reception) for me to not be able to reach someone, and vice versa. So when hours (okay, sometimes even MINUTES) go by without something from someone, I find myself feeling offended. That's where I feel lame. I shouldn't need to constantly be in touch with people. It's kinda weird of me. The good thing is that I know it's temporary. There will be a time when I will think it's funny that I spent so many hours composing or waiting for electronic messages. And I also know that if I were to go camping for a week or on vacation or anything else of that sort, I would happily forget all about what email messages I might be missing. It wouldn't even cross my mind.
So maybe it's not an addiction after all. Or even some psychological craving. Maybe it's mostly just boredom.