“A soft specter drifts through your mind, leaving a hazy residue across your eyes. It coats your mind, and strolls through your body. With a pair of nasty fangs, this hazy ghost clamps into your flesh and shares its dirty, and seductive poison. Your thoughts become filtered, and your words become chiseled. You forgo the special brand of warmth that colored your actions. They are no longer unique and personal, rather they are calculated, chilled and precise.
“‘Welcome to Heaven,’ a voice whispers somewhere far away in the cobwebs of your mind. The sleek voice is snuggled in one of the darkest shades. Wrapped in black and dripping alluring words of peace and serenity, the voice chants. “‘Welcome to perfection, and welcome to happiness.’
“This is from a book that many people regard as one of the best accounts of drug addiction. The author was a heroin addict for nearly a decade and a half. She had two kids while under its spell. Neither of her children survived birth,” the teacher lowered the book and stared at his class before concluding his spiel. “Anything that leads to addiction is bad. Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol; all bad. They’re bad for you, and so is being enslaved to them.”
The class was silent, though not distracted. They were engaged in the reading, and had been all semester long. They had been captivated by the atrocious nature of drug addiction and alcoholism.
“Any questions?” the teacher raised his puffy eyebrows at his class. Well, that was another wonderful lesson, he praised himself. They’re stunned. Ha! And they’re quiet. Finally. “So, we’re all gonna say no to drugs and alcohol, right?”
The class nodded, some more enthusiastic than others. Some clearly are lying as they agree, but the teacher discounts those “lost causes”. Sometimes, there’s just no hope for some people, he often thought.
“But what about other addictions?” a student asked, raising his hand.
“Like sex addiction? That one is bad too,” the teacher commented quickly, hoping to move on.
“Well, there is that, but that’s not what I meant. What about cell phones?” the student asked. His peers turned toward him, many of them raising eyebrows to show their confusion. “YouTube, music, books, movies, junk food?”
“Junk food is a good one,” the teacher agreed. “Well, it’s bad for you, but a good example. It can kill you, like drugs can.”
“Right, but what about cell phones? Why weren’t they included in the reading?” the student reworded their question. A murmur broke out among the students. They whispered among themselves, sharing their ideas and discussing the possibility of cell phone addiction.
“Well, obviously that is a problem,” the teacher began after listening to the students for a moment. He followed their cue and began to denounce cell phones. “They’re noisy, and they steal my students’ attention all the time. Yes, they can be an “addiction”, if you want to use that wording.”
“But what about the “good” they can bring?” the same student questioned. “Can that counter their “bad” qualities?”
A flurry of questions shot across the room. Confusion flushed the teacher’s mind blank. He turned an ear hear the student’s chatter just to find them confounded.
“What do you mean?” the teacher asked, unsure of how to proceed.
“Social media,” the student explained “it brings us closer together. It lets my mom see her grand kids on the west coast. It lets me see and talk to my nieces and nephews. Yet, it can suffocate us and we can get buried in it.”
“I am well aware of that,” the teacher snarled. He was getting tired of the student’s nonsense.
“What about addictions like that? Ones that have a lot of good in them, but can suck people in too deep?” the student asked one final time.
“What about them?” the teacher asked. He waved his hands in the air out of frustration. He was very perplexed and upset by the student.
“Are they bad?” another student blurted out the obvious question, angering the teacher.
“I think you said it best, good is brought about by these technologies, and yet, there are dangers or whatever you wish to call them. There are some negative aspects,” the teacher commented.
“And does the “good” of having a cell phone counter act the “bad”?” the student asked.
“Why are you asking this?” the teacher stopped the conversation.
“Because, you said earlier anything that’s at the center of an addiction is bad, near evil,” the student explained. “But how can that be when other things that cause addiction aren’t all bad?”
The teacher realized the student had caught him, and the rest of the class would soon discover his mistake if that had not already done so. He glanced around the room quickly, and saw several smiles and grins. They knew.
“Well, maybe some things that cause addiction aren’t always all bad,” the teacher admitted.
“Could the objects be innocent?” the student inquired. The teacher rubbed his eyes and set his hands on his hips in frustration.
“Do you want to lecture?” the teacher asked.
“No, I just wanted to get to this point: can the cigarette be guilty of being addictive? Of course, it contains properties that are addictive. But, without a person smoking it, there is no addiction. Without people over indulging in snack foods, there is no addiction,” the student paused for a moment, allowing for comments, but none came.
“We are to blame, not these random objects and things,” the student stated. “And why is that?”
“We’re weak minded,” the teacher offered. “I don’t know honestly.”
“Maybe we sense there are problems in this world, and we sense they aren’t going to be resolved, and so, we hide,” the student finished.
The teacher opened his mouth to speak, but restrained his tongue. He pondered the student’s words, and peeled back some of their lop layers. He unpacked their content, and went over it again. A smile collected in the corners of his lips as he thought.
“You’re right,” the teacher admitted. “We use vices to hide from reality.”
“Because the world is a broken place,” the student said with a nod. “It’s a cluster of people that don’t talk or anything. They just occupy the same planet and go about their lives, hiding from one another.”
“We’ve traded a rendition of freedom that is no longer known for a culture, and freedom, that encourages us to hide within our vices and use them to shield ourselves from the brutality of the world, rather than enjoy them,” the teacher muttered. “The haze isn’t left by a hunger for some sensation. It’s the thing that blinds us from seeing the pain of the world.”