Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wisdom from the Blogasphere

I was thinking this morning about how someone I recently met seems too attached to his own and other peoples pain. And maybe I'm being hugely unfair. He suffered a personal tragedy a few years ago, a fact that is foremost in much of his communication. Maybe he doesn't enjoy all the public commiseration and sympathy his blogs attract, and I understand that a tragedy such as the one he suffered doesn't just go away, but there are other clues of his self-vicimization, too. But no matter. Thinking about him caused me to google "addicted victim," resulting in a TON of links to victims OF addiction, so I changed my search parameters. Eventually, I ended up on the Samizdata blog where I found a posting from 2003 that speaks eloquently for me:

Addicted to being a victim
Johnathan Pearce (London) Health

There is a fine article in The Times today (link requires registration and may not work outside UK) by Mick Hume, bemoaning the decline of belief in individual responsibility and the growing use of the word "addiction" to describe almost every form of repetitive behaviour.

As the article can only be read through registration (grrr), here's the opening gaff:

"We are becoming a nation of addiction addicts. Our society has become hooked on the habit of blaming human behaviour on some form of addiction. Apparently normal people - doctors, scientists, politicians (normal? ed), even journalists (ditto? ed) - seem incapable of resisting the urge to inject "addict" or "dependency" into any discussion of social problems."

Exactly. The use of the word addict is used by policymakers to assault the idea of Man as a being with free will. We are all essentially passive victims. By doing so, it opens the floodgates to authortarian control of our lives. Look at the massive lawsuits against tobacco firms. Now I hold no brief for such firms, but the idea that people become so "addicted" to X or Y that they are unable to resist is surely contradicted by evidence all around us of people quitting such repetitive habits. Millions of people have in recent decades quit smoking, for example, like the good David Carr of this parish. Many have taken the painful step of quitting hard drugs or quitting alcohol. Of course change can be acutely difficult, which is why we praise folk who take the step of leading a healthier life.

Addiction is a word in danger of being rendered useless by applying it to just about every form of behaviour which is either frowned upon or a repeat form of activity.

Come to that, I suppose I must be "addicted" to blogging. Help me nurse, I am using Movable Type again!

No comments: