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Blog eat blog: Can blogging be addictive?

Unless you are one of my followers on Twitter, you probably have no idea that yesterday’s blog was the hundredth one I had published since I began my blog at the end of November 2011. I try to post a blog on every week day and the only time that I have not done this is when I don’t have internet access while on my travels or when I am on holiday. I’ve had a few emails asking how I manage to blog so frequently and/or whether I am “addicted to blogging”!! In honour of my century of blogs, I thought I would use today’s blog as an excuse to take a (not so-serious) look at blogging addiction.

As a psychologist there seems to be a predictable set of questions that I am asked by people when they first meet me. Things like “Oh God, you’re not analyzing me are you?”, “It’s all common sense isn’t it?” and “What’s my body language saying then?” spring to mind. However, for those that know me, my passion for publication, and my love of appearing in the media, I now seem to receive a set of predictable questions that other psychologists tend to ask me at conferences. These consist of variations on a theme: “Would you describe yourself as a ’writaholic’?”, “Are you a publicity junkie?”, “Have you written more papers than you’ve read?” and “Are you addicted to writing/appearing in the media?”. I’m sure you get the general picture.

I ought to say that I really don’t think I am addicted to writing and/or appearing in the media but can I really be sure? If you are a regular reader of my blog you will only be too aware that my specialist research interest is behavioural addiction. I talk about addiction all the time (to my students, to my colleagues, to my friends, to the media, and on this blog). I like to write or appear in the media as much as I can. I keep a detailed diary and I seem to be at my word processor or on the telephone to journalists a disproportionate amount of time. I write about writing. I write articles on productive writing. The fact that I’m writing this blog on this topic tells you something. Therefore what follows is a little bit of light-hearted self-analysis.

To begin with, I have asked myself the following questions. When did I first get into print? When did I first appear in the media? What is it about these activities that could be addictive? What are the rewards? Why don’t other people seem to get sucked in the way that I do? Well there’s no doubt that seeing your name in print can give you a little buzz. The first time I can remember seeing my name in print was when I was nine years old and I had a poem published in a poetry magazine called Cornucopia (a very alliterative poem entitled “Kung-Fu Karate Kim”. I kid you not!). I also remember seeing my name and photograph in the local newspaper which (at the young age of eight years old) also gave me a big buzz (although I don’t think I had ever heard of the word “buzz” at that tender age). My first proper radio appearance was at the age of 10 years old on a BBC Radio Leicester programme called Conkers (I was there to talk about a county Road Safety competition I had won). As early adolescence kicked in, I didn’t care about smoking, drinking, playing slot machines or the opposite sex. I wanted to do things that would get me into print.

So there you have the roots of my possible addictive tendencies towards seeing my name in print. I suppose it also partially explains why I like doing so much media work whether it be TV, radio or the press. I love writing. I write a diary. I write poetry. I write songs. I write academic papers. I write fiction. I write letters. I write, write, write. There is no doubt that I now require something special to give me a big buzz like getting a book published or seeing an article I’ve written in a top quality journal or a wide circulation publication. I find it quite amazing that someone like Sigmund Freud never had a thing published until he was 39 years old. There’s hope for me yet.

It may come as a surprise but some people (including a small percentage of academics) may be addicted to writing. Those who have an “ink problem” undertake ritualistic behaviour engaging in the activity and experience intense “highs” on the acceptance of an article or seeing the article finally in print. Tolerance occurs quickly with writers having to write longer and longer articles or books to get intense “highs” (a stage at which the writing is well and truly “booked”). Irritability and withdrawal effects are experienced when they (a) get an article rejected, (b) go more than a few weeks without getting anything published, (c) run out of ideas to write about (many writers fear developing a “think problem” and some may even resort to “clue sniffing” for inspiration) or (d) are on holiday without access to a word processor. This last problem can sometimes be avoided by carrying a writing implement. Anecdotal evidence suggests such addicts show cross-tolerance to pencils and biros but not to crayons.

So here I am writing the ending to another a blog that I know will be published. Admittedly not the best blog I’ve ever written but one that will help me feel as though I’ve been at least a little bit productive today. Some might say it’s been therapeutic. I’m certainly not the only blogger to consider the issue of ‘blogging addiction’. Check out the links below if you don’t believe me!

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Flodner (2012). Guest blogging addiction. February 27. Located at: http://flodner.com/guest-blogging-addiction/

Mitchell, J. (2008). Blogging: Addiction or conviction? Blogcritics Culture, October 2. Located ar: http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/blogging-addiction-or-conviction/

Online quiz: How addicted to blogging are you? Located at: http://www.oneplusyou.com/bb/blog_addiction

Salkin, L. (2011). Why blogging is addictive. Blazing Minds, February 28. Located at: http://blazingminds.co.uk/blogging-addictive/

Vahni (2010). Are you addicted to blogging? Independent Fashion Bloggers, November 19. Located at: http://heartifb.com/2010/11/19/are-you-addicted-to-blogging/