John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace
This article dated April 97 (v1.0)

Cold Turkey

Messages from an Ex-Palace "Addict"

Many Palace members talk and joke about being "addicted." A few members take the issue seriously and decide that it's time to "quit the habit." Below are the e-mails I received from one such person.
Hi John!

I thought I'd drop you a note saying "Thank you." I've been on the Palace ever since I entered college back in September, and I found that it was slowly but surely sucking away my time and social life (small as it was). Even though my grades were fine (Dean's List), I had a feeling it was effecting my ... studies as well. I had become addicted, and I had even tried to stop once or twice, but got back on after a few hours of my supposed permanent exit.

Anyway, I quit for *good* a week or so ago. The god at the Palace I hung out at offered to wiz me -- meaning MORE time had to be spent along with the greater responsibility. The same evening, I found your page and read your entire study, and was in a state of shock, since I realized that there WAS something wrong with me.

In any case, around 2:00 AM, I transferred my registration code to a deserving guest, and asked the wiz to banish me. I made a nice little dramatic exit, and wiped that sucker clean off my hard drive. (Interestingly enough, I found that rollerblading is an adequate alternative for Palace, so whenever I get the urge to Palace, I just hit the streets instead). Amazingly, two other of my fellow Palatians followed suit within the next few days, transferring their registration codes to random guests and nuking their copies. One of them even called me up over the phone to say good-bye and good luck (the first actual vocal contact I've ever experienced with another net-dweller).

In any case, I think I might still be veg'ging out in the Palace were it not for your study. Thanks -- you've opened my eyes, and helped me reclaim a good chunk of my life. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go rollerblading. ; )

- ex-Palace Member

After receiving this message, I wanted to let this ex-Palatian know that I appreciated his contacting me and being honest about his Palace experience. I also wanted to ask his permission to quote his message on this site, and to find out more about his decision to quit. In particular, I was curious about what he read in my articles that prompted him to go "cold turkey."

Well, just the title alone ("Life" at the Palace) kinda freaked me out -- I realized that I WAS spending my entire life on the damn thing. I also realized that there was basically nothing new or exciting every time I logged on. It was kinda like Seinfeld, a show about 'nothing' (heh).

I studied Maslow's self-actualization beforehand, and found that your section called "Is This the Real Me?" I started to wonder if I could cultivate my true self by sitting on my rump interfacing with avatars.

Also contributing to my decision was the "But is it an Addiction?" section. Palace disrupted my life when I could be doing other, more fun things (AKA being a typical college doofus and going out and partying, yadda yadda yadda). I also write professionally for a magazine, and felt that my work was being affected.

I also had been promising myself to cut down for a long time. My social life was never that great to begin with (I'm a loner, basically), so I suppose that Palace gave some of the social aspects that I was missing in 'real' life. BTW: I am not fat, butt-ugly, or a social outcast. (I don't think I am, anyway :)

One more interesting thing: Around 2 hours before my final log-off, I got my first PHONE CALL from a fellow Palace-dweller ... who just called me up to say hello. We chatted for a long while, and I realized that this was a real person who I was talking to, not a graphical avatar. I also saw how much easier it was to just communicate with someone without a keyboard, and then it just hit me: I was making relationships and being social by typing words to little colored smiley-faces on a cold computer monitor. I also realized that over fifty percent of communication comes from non-verbal cues (this statistic may be off, I dunno), so there was something wrong here.

In any case, I've gotten a bunch of E-Mails from people just begging me to come back, and I have to turn them down. If you want a view from the inside, go to [Palace site] and ask about me...

Take it easy, and thanks for putting up with my rambling --

In a later message, he offered to send me a transcript of his very last session at Palace. He also offered an interesting observation about how he was reacting to having quit cold turkey.

Here's the edited transcript of my last session. Boring stuff has been edited out. I suppose it's a tad on the dramatic side, but I like to go out with a bang. Heh.

Krel: Okay, anyway, this is Krel, and Krel is signing off
zig: what happend Krel
Krel: Krel is signing off for the rest of his life, since Palace is an Evil Addiction and I have to stop it
Krel: It's just taking too much control of me life
zig: no dont do it
Krel: YES
zig: please
zig: TR
zig: is that really Krel
Krel: Yes it is me
Krel: And TR is gonna get Kevorkian on my ass
TR: yeah it is him
zig: and if so why is he threatenin to leave palace
TR: i dont know
zig: whats goin on
Krel: This is it... my Palace Hari-Kari
zig: oh my god
zig: i cant watch
TR: krel. i cant ban you from ign though
Krel: Say goodnight, Gracie...
zig: please krel
zig: as annoing and biased as you are your part of the family
Krel: Ba-ha-ha
Krel: Anyway, TR... do your duties
Krel: finish it now
TR: krel you sure its you
Krel: YES
Krel: God dang it
Krel: Daisy... daisy... give me your answer true (2001 reference)
zig: how could you want to leave palace for all eternity
TR: you wont be able to get back on
Krel: Yes... I understand that
zig: dont do it id
zig: DONT
Krel: Let's countdown to extinction, baby!
Krel: when I reach one... finish it!
Krel: 10.
TR: and of course trunks is goiing to be awefully disappointed in you
Krel: 9.
Krel: We'll stay in touch through email.
Krel: 8
zig: OH MY GOD
Guest 824: hehe
Krel: Save this log file if you wish...
Krel: 7
Krel: 6
zig: say it again krel
Krel: 5
zig: i just started my log
zig: say it one more time
Krel: 4
zig: what are you doin
Guest 824: hehe
Krel: 3
zig: krel
zig: please
Krel: 2
zig: please
zig: please
Krel: 1
zig: KREL
zig: no
Krel: !NOW TR
Krel: !DO IT NOW
No Connection
No Connection
You have been terminated

The page [this web page] looks nice! Hope I can help some other addicts to quit.

One more interesting thing: during the five or six days after I quit Cold Turkey, I experienced extremely vivid nightmares (I very infrequently remember my dreams). I don't know if it was due to lack of Palace or not, but they've managed to go away. Bizarre...

See also in the Psychology of Cyberspace:

To Get What You Need: Healthy and Pathological Internet Use
Computer and Cyberspace Addiction
An Internet Addiction Questionnaire
Why is This Thing Eating My Life? (computer and cyberspace addiction at the Palace)
An interview with John Suler about internet addiction
Internet Addiction Disorder Support Group
Internet Addiction in a Nutshell

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