Vice Squad
Monday, May 14, 2007
Scrabble Addiction

Nora Ephron has an op-ed in Sunday's New York Times that details her addiction to a form of on-line Scrabble. Here's the start:
About three years ago, I stumbled onto something called Scrabble Blitz. It was a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire, on a Web site called, and I began playing it without a clue that within 24 hours — I am not exaggerating — it would fry my brain.
And slightly later in the article:
My brain turned to cheese. I could feel it happening. It was clear that I was becoming more and more scattered, more distracted, more unfocused; I was exhibiting all the symptoms of terminal attention deficit disorder; I was turning into a teenage boy.
I think that the fact that the game can be completed within four minutes is an important part of its reinforcing nature -- playing just one more game is no big deal. And it is amazing how large a role easy access plays in these sorts of addictions -- if the Scrabble site goes down, an addict for whom access has become impossible might not even feel cravings, might be almost instantly "cured."

So-called soft addictions have been receiving a fair amount of publicity of late. (The term 'soft addiction' apparently was coined by Judith Wright, author of this book.) The list of common soft addictions includes much of, well, life: excessive procrastination, work, television, and coffee, for instance. Here's a quiz devised by Ms. Wright to help determine if you suffer from a soft addiction; I am addicted to quizzes.

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