I sometimes humorously refer to my reading habit as an “addiction.” Of course, addiction is no joke, and any kind of compulsive behavior is not a good thing. But what actually makes something an addiction rather than a healthy pleasure? I looked up some of the criteria and tried to apply them to myself as a reader.
- Growing tolerance: My reading doesn’t need to keep increasing exponentially to give me the same effect as formerly, and fluctuates according to my available time and mood.
- Cravings and withdrawal: I do feel antsy if I don’t have a book to read, but it doesn’t make me suffer from extreme anxiety, panic attacks, shaking, or nausea.
- Decrease in ability to enjoy previously pleasurable activities: I enjoy plenty of other things aside from reading, and reading does not decrease my pleasure in them.
- Feelings of guilt and shame: I don’t feel ashamed about reading, but rather want to celebrate it!
- Neglecting other responsibilities: Um, I may be slightly at fault here. When was the last time I dusted behind the fridge? I’d much rather finish this chapter…
- Blaming others for problems and inability to look at oneself: I emphatically deny that reading has this effect on me; it has helped me to understand myself and the world and to connect with other people, off the page.
So it looks like I don’t need to worry about reading as an addiction, at least not a harmful one. As long as life is kept in balance and I don’t neglect my real-world relationships, I think it’s all good.
Do you think that reading could actually become a compulsion? What keeps life in balance for you?