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It all started with one innocent computer game ...

The Bright Side: Joe Bushue


Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

“Every time a door shuts, another opens.” That’s a good inspirational piece of advice, which usually works out. But there is another saying: “What goes up must come down.” It seems that both can work for and against each other. Every time I control and close the door on one addiction or compulsive behavior, a door to another one seems to indeed open, and a downhill descent almost always comes with it.

In the past, I successfully lost 100 pounds, quit smoking after 19 years, stopped chewing my nails, got over my addiction to black licorice (still a work in progress) and overcame more obsessive traits that weren’t healthy. It seems that every time I shut the door on one thing, sure enough, another one opened — one time really wide.

A Facebook friend asked me to play him in a simple little game called “Words with Friends.” Little did I know that I was entering the equivalent of computer crack cocaine. Just one little game, and I was hooked. Before I knew it, I was simultaneously playing 11 games with five different people. Every time I quit playing to do something else, I felt guilty. I felt I was being rude to the people I was playing, as if they were just sitting there waiting breathlessly for my next move.

What started as an innocent way to play a game with friends had become a problem when I realized that I had spent three hours one morning playing non-stop. The only reason I stopped then was because I was waiting for one of the five or six others to make their move. While waiting, I saw that I had been invited by “friends” to explore a game called “Farmville.” I could build up my “farm” by adding animals, plants, buildings and such.

Then there was “Bubble Safari,” “Lucky Slots,” “Mafia Wars” and more and more ways to compete for what could be constructive time spent. They seem like they’re some pyramid scheme because the success of these games seems to rely on getting as many people involved as possible.

When I first bought a computer, I was excited about all the possibilities it would provide. I could do my taxes, organize all my expenses, create correspondence both business and personal. Keep important records that I could retrieve at any time, research things through the Internet and make instant contact with others worldwide. The possibilities were endless!

Then I was lured into a world of computer-game addiction, and apparently I wasn’t alone. I felt like someone who has a microwave oven and uses it only to boil water or make popcorn. When I concluded that this compulsion had to change, I “shut the door” on it. But I didn’t have to wait long to see what other doors opened for me to explore.

It seems there is one game I haven’t explored yet. It doesn’t involve other players, and doesn’t seem like you could develop an obsession with it. It’s the world of Solitaire! Now that might be harmless fun.