My name is Trey, and I’m a like-a-holic. I’m not sure how I ended up here. Things like this only happen to people named Amber or Bronson. It started innocently enough, with photos of my dinner, check-ins at movie theaters, and selfies at restaurants. I’d get a few likes here and there but sooner a later, a few weren’t enough to get me through the day.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Young. Newly married. Things were fine until the first time I took my phone into the bathroom. Why I needed a phone in the shitter, I’ll never know. But all my friends were doing it, so I figured it was ok. That was really the beginning of the end. Ten minutes became thirty, and half-hour morning constitutionals turned into an hour. I tried to hide it, but my wife started to get suspicious, so she started checking. “I SEE THAT FUCKING GREEN DOT! I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN THERE!!”, she would yell from the kitchen.
When caught, I would, of course, be embarrassed. I’d stop posting for a while. I’d also stop commenting or sharing the posts of others, which was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to get others to like my posts. And things would return to normal for a few days until the pattern repeated.
It all seemed manageable enough. I never considered myself to have a problem. Then one day, one of my Facebook friends shared this thing with me called a meme, and my world came crashing down. “Karen” became as real to me as my wife. Kermit the Frog was no longer a simple childhood memory. He had been resurrected from the ash heap of PBS history and was now alive and well in my newsfeed. My appetite became insatiable and I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. At the office, at home at the dinner table, in the bathroom, in bed, on the sidelines at my kids’ endless select sports tournaments on the weekends – the demon had total control over me, and I was powerless to stop it. I kept sharing, reposting, retweeting, until my mind and my thumbs simply couldn’t take it anymore. I lived for those little “thumbs up” icons and would do anything to get them.
The last thing I remember is a friend texting me some photo of a woman yelling at a cat. The cat looked so calm and resolute as the woman was pointing at him while she screamed and cried. I hadn’t seen it before, but I knew this was something big. Then, everything went black. The next thing I remember is lying on a stretcher. I came to and found my wife leaning over me trying to pry my phone out of my hand. The paramedic stopped her. “Ma’am… if we remove that now, it could kill him.” In that moment, I realized I had a problem, and promptly passed out again.
The next thing I remember is waking up in this place – no phone, no tablet, no laptop. Nothing. Just me, alone, with my own thoughts. I frantically began trying to visualize ever meme I could recall. I fantasized about 100, 500, 5000 likes, even about going viral. But these fantasies were weak substitutes for the real thing, and eventually, they faded.
So, here I am with all of you tonight. I’m uncertain about what my future holds. Not sure I could ever touch another device, much less download another social media app, ever. So, here I am. My name is Trey, and I’m a like-a-holic.