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~ ~ First of all let’s analyse the question we’re being asked here.
“Member Advice On Ciao Addiction”
Well, for starters, it’s not really a question, is it? And does “Ciao Addiction” actually exist, and if so, are any of us here qualified to give anyone else “Advice” about it? I’ve no doubt that when Ciao first posted this category, they intended it to be taken with a pinch of salt, and for most of the opinions posted to be of the humorous variety. Indeed, if you read most of the opinions in the category, you’ll find that this is in fact the case. But there’s nothing funny about “addiction”. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word “addicted” as “Physically dependent on a particular substance” and “Devoted to a particular interest or activity”. I personally know a fair bit about addiction, as I’m a recovered alcoholic for the past 25 years plus, having spent most of my teens and twenties wandering around in an alcoholic daze from which I thought I’d never recover. And I also know just a wee bit about Ciao, having been a member of the site since shortly after it began back in 2000. So I feel that I’m probably as qualified as anyone here at Ciao to give advice on “Ciao addiction”.
~ ~So does Ciao addiction actually exist? Well, I suppose that depends on how exactly you use the site, and what it means to you. Certainly, if you’re a “casual” member (the sort that Ciao themselves actually prefer, in my opinion) then the answer to the question would definitely be no. You log onto the site occasionally, read, rate and comment on a few reviews, maybe post a couple of your own reviews a week, (or less) and leave it at that. Every now and again you might even earn enough pennies to “cash in”, and treat yourself to a new book, DVD, night out, or whatever you fancy, all courtesy of Ciao. Every now and again you’ll “earn” enough Community points to change the colour of your dot from white to green, to blue, to violet, and so on. You have fun, and enjoy your time on Ciao. Maybe even make a few “online” friends. And that’s the way it’s meant to be folks!
~ ~ But believe me, Ciao addiction *DOES* exist, and like any other addiction in this life, it has the potential to wreak bloody havoc with your life, destroying your social life, wrecking marriages and personal relationships, and losing you jobs. (If taken to the extreme) How do I know this? Simple really. I might be a “recovered” alcoholic, but despite the fact that I don’t partake of “Old John Barleycorn” anymore, my personality is such that I could probably best be described as having an “addictive” personality. In other words, whatever it is I’m currently doing, I tend to do it to excess. I might do it WELL, but I still have this annoying tendency to go overboard, and do it to excess. When I first joined Ciao, dooyoo, and Epinions back in late 2000, things were no different. I’d just qualified as a journalist back in August, and discovering opinion sites was like manna from heaven for me. In fact, I say as much in my “personal profile” here at Ciao. I was slowly recovering from a debilitating physical illness, so I wasn’t out and about driving my taxi as normal. The end result was that I ended up spending so much time on the opinion sites that I would have taken the damned computer to bed with me if I could, and I was on the computer from the time I got up in the morning to last thing at night. 18 hours a day wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration!! Even when I eventually got better and returned to work, I’d log on first thing in the morning to check my account, possibly post an opinion, and check out my CoT. And while I was out working, I was constantly thinking about new reviews, and even got in the habit of carrying the laptop about underneath the driver’s seat in my taxi so I could write reviews in “idle” time on the taxi rank. The first thing I did when I got home in the evening was to log on again. And thus it went on!
~ ~ But it had to stop! I was fortunate in as much as I already had wide experience of “addiction”, and recognised the signs in myself at an early stage. So I got a hold of myself and got things back into proportion before it got to a stage that it was actually affecting any part of my real life in any significant way, and before I went over the “edge” entirely, when you actually lose all control over your actions. In other words, before I truly became “addicted”. Nowadays, I would classify myself as a (fairly consistent) casual member of the opinion sites. Oh, I’m still around a fair bit, and still read and rate a lot. But I post *FAR* fewer reviews now than I used to, and then only when the mood to write takes me. I use Ciao the way I believe it should be used, and the way in which I think the Ciao management hope it *WILL* be used. As a recreational pastime, that I thoroughly enjoy, and which makes me the odd few pounds now and again.
~ ~ Some people I have come across in my time at the opinion sites have not been so lucky! I know of marriages that have been destroyed because of “extra-curricular” activity between members. I know of people who have lost their jobs through using the company computer to log onto Ciao when they’re supposed to be working. I’ve seen people become so totally engrossed in the opinion sites that they become the be all and end all of their lives to the exclusion of all else! THAT’S what “Ciao addiction” can bring you to if you’re not careful folks. And I joke you not!!
~ ~ So do I have any “advice” or words of wisdom to pass onto any casual reader of this opinion, or indeed, to any unfortunate person who feels they have already gone over the edge and become addicted to opinion sites? Well, not really, other than to watch out for the signs in yourself, and to be aware that statistics show that around 10% of the entire population possess the “addictive personality” that I mentioned earlier! Yep, you read that right. Just as 10% of people who drink alcohol will eventually end up with some sort of drinking “problem”, one out of every ten people here at Ciao most likely have the type of personality that could possibly lead to them becoming addicted to the site!
~ ~ Why have I chosen this time to write this particular opinion? Well, do I really HAVE to spell it out to you folks? I think we’re all only too well aware of what has happened here at Ciao over the last couple of days in relation to one of our leading members. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m NOT saying that any particular member either past or present was (or is) addicted to Ciao or any other opinion site. I’m only relating my own personal experiences since I joined Ciao nearly four years ago, and trying to point out some of the pitfalls that can occur if you allow yourself to get too “sucked in” to the Ciao culture. I know, because it nearly happened to me! Be careful it doesn’t happen to you!
Well written and honest and I can identify with it in a lot of ways! I am constantly nipping in here to see what the latest reviews are and what the comments on my own reviews are, and everytime I watch a film I'm consciously remembering all the character names so I can review it the next day! paula x
Quakerman 10.11.2004 15:39
I've hardly logged in during the past year so I guess I'm not. So thanks for the tips on avoiding becoming one! Harry
badgirl99 09.11.2004 00:59
yeah, I can see how this could happen but I don't have time to be addicted!! Fab opinion though! Amy x