content warning: addiction*~ a more in-depth explanation at the bottom
I hope this isn’t too dramatic (even though truthfully I know it is), but my own experience with addiction is pretty standard. It started with a taste of curiosity that eventually became an insistent void. While some people’s addiction is completely detrimental, mine has an, admittedly nerdy, silver lining. My first voluntary foray into what has both ruined and enriched my life was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende; as addiction stories go, obviously it wasn’t my last venture into the deep underbelly of fantasy-life. After that it was a steep decline of being hooked on books. I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t sleep. I had the nerdiest addiction in the history of addictions. Since then, I’ve lost hours of my life to the things. But I do learn. It has had a positive impact on my life. And it might be a better use of my time than other activities. I don’t think I’ll ever conquer my need for stories though.
When I was in middle school and still limited in my story-medium, my sister told me that I should read Looking for Group (my first webcomic); I had already been introduced to online manga readers (RIP OneManga) by my brother, but there was something new and wonderful about Looking for Group, which, admittedly, could have been the antihero that was a sociopathic, hedonistic undead warlock named Richard. He’s pictured above temporarily trapped in unfortunate circumstances; though I loved Looking for Group, I found myself in a similar mood eventually. It took a while for me to realize I needed more than one webcomic to satiate myself, but eventually I was on the hard and fast path to becoming a bona fide dork.
At first I went to my sister and asked if there were any other webcomics that she thought I would like. There were, and I did. But they weren’t enough. After LFG came Fey Winds, Strays, Hanna Is Not A Boys Name, Flaky Pastry, and Toilet Genie [a few of these comics are not hosted anywhere anymore]. After those, while searching on my own (with the occasional input from my sister), I found so many interesting comics that I stopped reading older ones in favor of fresh stories like Blank It, Goblins, Minor Acts of Heroism, Gunnerkrigg Court, Mokepon, Skin Deep, and Paranatural. Through my search for quality content I found SmackJeeves, which I arbitrarily hated, and Tapastic, which I still love.
The reason why I became so absorbed in webcomics was my answer to a question of convenience. I needed stories, and I loved to read, but felt guilt at asking my parents to buy me books or drive me to the library while I browsed for hours. Additionally, I was impatient and wanted more now. Webcomics allowed me to access new stories immediately for free, and waiting for weekly updates wasn’t so terrible when it was actually waiting for twenty different weekly updates all on different days of the week. It both encouraged individual moderation as well as mass obsession. I was never sated but I had to wait for the individual comics to update, so I filled my hunger with new comics in a vicious cycle… until I realized that maybe books were what would fill the whole in my story-loving-heart once again. Until I realized that maybe comics would be a better alternative with my short attention span. Until I realized that whatever fit with my current lifestyle was really the best choice. If I had large chunks of free time a book would be my ever-ready companion, and if life was too busy and too overwhelming a short break with a good comic was a wonderful break from the stress.
I still haven’t mastered self-control; I don’t know many people that have. Until I do I’ll just have to keep reading, so please send me recommendations!
* I acknowledge addiction is a serious illness. However, this personal post reflects upon it in a light-hearted manner. I have both first and close second hand experience with addictive personalities, so I am left with the hope that no one that could be hurt by what I wrote felt attacked in any way.