Everyday addictions

I’m hooked, man. I’m nailing Netflix. I snorting the online stores. I’m smoking the pages of best-selling paperbacks, I’m turning them so fast. I’m addicted to everyday addictions. And so, probably, are you.

Have you seen the new Netflix show Ninjas? Oh. Em. Gee. I cannot get enough of this. It’s kind of got that Heroes vibe to it, that decades old everyday superhero series.

But Ninjas is so much better. Like, in the first scene of the series premiere, Dalton, the guy with the mop of blond hair, weaving his way through the Russian’s mob’s night club, through the dancing throngs, as the gangsters notice him and move in. The way he moved, short sharp kicks to the side of the knee – out of nowhere! Axe-kicking that guy three times his size to the ground before using his own knee to smash the dude’s face. After taking out the mob boss in the lofty glass office, using well-placed ninja-star strikes to the head, he ninja-bombed right out of there in a shroud of smoke – as the bad guys were about to overrun him!

Everyday addictions, Everyday addictions, Best Addiction Rehabilitation  in South AfricaBut, as usual with these tight Netflix series, it’s the final act that really rivets you – for that cliff-hanger to make you want more. Like when Shinobi, the mysterious dude pretending to be a beggar – with his off-white shawl actually mimicking a ninja hood – does those fast, fluid arm-breaks, throws, and weaves against the (eight!) security guards in the entrance hall of Yakamato Corp., I practically lost my mind – especially since the entire final act used Mona Lisa Overdrive. One of my favourite films scores, like, ever. Shin infiltrates the building. Finds the microchip. Plans to escape through that secret exit. Then that breath-taking sword-fight with security-commander (and ninja) Jin, where their blades clashed like a ballet dance, whipping small bloody cuts on each other! I re-watched the bit where the rest of the security team broke down the jammed door, just as Shinobi got the upper hand in the fight, flipping Jin’s overly muscular body around so they get entwined back-to-back – with Shin’s sword by Jin’s neck. Can’t shoot Shin with your assault rifles now, lousy security guards!

I was anxiously thumping my foot on the floor as Shin disengages from Jin, and leaps out the building’s third storey window, turning and whipping out a tiny grappling hook – which just managed to hit the glass pane to break his fall… when Jin grabbed that sub-machine gun from the one security guy, firing it off, blasting the grapping hook from the window, rushing to it as Shin crash landed those last two metres to the ground, before firing at him. I wasn’t sure Shin would make it to the sewer manhole… but he did, literally a split-second before he would’ve been glibbed by a metal-storm of bullets.

We ended on Jin’s scowling goatee’d face as his narrow eyes glared with anger. Cross-fade to black. Roll credits.

So I think this is what’s going to happen. Shinobi’s definitely wounded. Jin’s going to try hunt him down with his security team. No way he’s letting him get away with the microchip – and we still need to find why it’s so important to The Scarlet Brotherhood. Then the red-headed chick… um, don’t remember her name… not sure how she’s connected, but the way she saved the Tibetan kid at the park from mysterious masked assailants will be pivotal next episode. And the kid wasn’t bad with his staff-style of fighting. I’m thinking trained by warrior monks, or something.

All I can think about is the next episode. I was so going to watch it immediately, but I had work to do. It’s driving me mad these everyday addictions

Except there is no Ninjas. There should be. It would be so fragging awesome. I just used it to illustrate how crazy I get about a TV series (without revealing spoilers). We’re all Game of Thrones addicts, for one thing. Ordinary people salivate for their favourite series like a crack addict does for his pipe.

I mean, you, the non-addicts who may read this blog, do you relate?

The desperate need to find out what happens next in the tightly plotted tales woven for us by master storytellers?

It’s an addiction. An everyday addiction. Many ordinary people binge watch. And it affects their lives, kind of. Think about the average Netflix series, which is between 10 to 13 hours long. That’s time you once spent reading a book.

Do people still read in this age of instant series gratification? That’s another thing I used to be addicted to.

I’m not ashamed. Sidney Sheldon novels. I thought they were as nutritious as potato chips. And yet I couldn’t stop consuming them. Stories like some a-hole multi billionaire who struck it rich with a lucky oil-fields find… who uses his free time to plot evil plots for reasons not really made clear. Are you so bored with life when you have billions that you’re only entertained by head games? Ah ha!, he must have thought, I’ve convinced you that your husband is in love with your illegal immigrant Hispanic maid! Who’s really your long-lost half-sister! And moonlights as an elite government assassin!

I normally read these books when I was supposed to be studying for my varsity exams. The day before. I would start in the morning and I would be finished by midnight. And the one book I should have actually opened was neglected in the corner – like a deflated male stripper at a lesbian hen party.

Then there’s one of my other addictions. Shopping. Online. I’m a gamer. I love my computer games. And on STEAM, an online gaming platform, there are literally thousands and thousands. The problem, for me, is the store is designed like the Apple App Store. Better than the App Store. It is the man-child’s version of a toy aisle for six-year olds. Except EVERY aisle is the toy aisle.

The worst are the specials. They always have specials. You can buy games, sometimes, for 90% off!

Do I play most of the games I download? No. Actually not. But it’s the buying that triggers something. Can you relate?

Even the famed Alex Hamlyn, one of the directors of Houghton House, slips once in a while. I have it on good authority he once binge-watched eight episodes of 24 in a row until 3 o’ clock in the morning. This was in 2009, Alex, if you’re reading this. I remember very well and will testify in a court of law if need be.

See, nobody is completely immune from everyday addictions. We all experience it to some degree.

The key, and I’m still learning this, is managing it so you don’t disrupt your life. When you’re playing Candy Crush two hours into your work day, unable to pull yourself away from your cellphone while your boss is awaiting that important report… it can cause problems.

Work, incidentally, is its own addiction. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when fulfilling a task… the feeling of dopamine being released in the brain. It’s basically a fraction of what happens when you snort cocaine. The purpose of that neurochemical is to get you to repeat an action. Completing helpful tasks was a key component of our survival as a species.

Almost all everyday addictions are about the release of dopamine.

The anticipation of “watching one more episode”, “reading one more chapter”, “buying one more game”, “playing one more level”, “completing one more task”. It’s like drugs. One more hit of the pipe. One more snort up the nose. One more spike of the needle.

But there’s always one more after the one more.

Everyday addictions are mostly not that harmful. Chemical addictions, of course, are. But they’re essentially the same mechanism. And maybe, if you’re not an addict, you’ve now got a better idea of what it is like to be an addict. Dangerous chemicals. Including alcohol. We know we should stop. But soon we can’t. When that happens, only an excellent rehab centre like Houghton House can help us.

It’s possible I’ll have to check in there again for my Netflix habit.

Because right now, I’m more interested in watching the next episode of Ninjas than completing this blog post.

PHOTO CREDIT: J.D (whatever his non-pseudonym name is, which is known to Houghton House). Photoshoot, photo-editing, and concept by him. This is protected by international copyright laws and no unauthorised usage, including of concept, is allowed.