Guest column: On Webaholism and other high-tech addictions

We did it to ourselves. With our fancy cell phones, pagers, e-mail and Web sites, we have ruined what's left of our sorry lives.

We are a nation of workaholics. We are constantly wired in, working 24/7, unable to escape the lure of technology and the somewhat lousy paycheck that goes with it. We can't even enjoy a weekend. A movie. A marriage.

But sadly, workaholism isn't our only affliction. Technology has created several other debilitating high-tech addictions. As a public service, I have listed some of the most common below. But discretion is advised: The maladies listed below contain graphic descriptions. Consult with your physician if you have any of these symptoms.

The parkaholic. Practically at epidemic proportions. Parkaholics circle the office parking lot looking for absolutely the best, closest-to-the-door, highly coveted parking spot. Some mornings, they'll sacrifice 45 minutes to parkaholism in order to save six strides. I personally used to be so afflicted that I had several episodes where I arrived promptly at 8:20am but didn't quite make it into the building until someone from the first row left for lunch. My doctor now makes me telecommute.

The Webaholic. The number one addiction in America. Every waking minute is spent on the Web, e-trading, e-shopping and eventually getting to your 117 unread e-mails because you were too busy e-trading and e-shopping. Yet even with this remarkable addiction, office productivity remains at an all-time high. How can anyone sleep at his desk when Yahoo is up 5 1/8?

The Postaholic. Can't help but steal, hoard or take home office supplies; his desk is full of them. He's got 30 sharpened pencils; an impressive stash of Post-it notepads, in three different colors; three staple removers; a lifetime supply of black binder clips; and six boxes of blank diskettes, with a couple of hundred extra of those sticky, colored diskette labels (because you never can tell when you'll need them). An isolated case of Postaholism is hardly a crisis, though two Postaholics in one office can cause some rather entertaining skirmishes around the supply closet.

The storaholic. Won't delete a file. Won't toss a printout. Physical and virtual space rapidly disappear as storaholics keep critical and not-so-critical documents from back when Carter was president. One of America's most expensive diseases, it accounts for up to 45 per cent of next year's DASD budget. And just when you think you've got a storaholic cured, he suddenly relapses, running back to his cubicle to find that e-mail about restriping the parking deck from the summer of 1993.

The magaholic. Subscribes to every free trade rag and never has time to read any of them. Extremely susceptible to those irritating little subscription cards stuck behind pages 32, 54 and 78. Magaholics sign up for every free subscription known to man, and soon their cubicles are overflowing with such meaningful periodicals as Small Midwestern Business Systems Application Integration Architecture Weekly and The Object-Oriented Journal for Left-Handers -- all still in their shrink-wrap.

The logoholic. Finally, this addiction results in frightening cravings for anything from a vendor: Calendars. Golf balls. Clocks. Paperweights. More paperweights. A typical symptom is having a bookcase, shelf or credenza covered with several hundred logoed mugs, and yet the victim still drinks coffee out of disposable styrofoam. Closely related to vendaholism, which is the incredible urge to get your HP rep to buy you lunch.

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