Field of Science

Confessions of a Wikipedia Addict

I bet this has happened to you - you Google something and the top hit comes up as a wikipedia article. You smile (FTW!) and quickly click on it. Now depending on how familiar you are with what you are searching, you either read the first few lines that briefly introduce the subject to you or if you know that already then you quickly press CTRL + F and search for the specific term you were looking for. While reading or searching for the exact piece of information you come across a term which you aren't quite familiar with. You want to know more. Then you realise that it is hyperlinked and you think, "Sweet! Another wikipedia page! FTW!" and without thinking twice, you click on it. You are on a new wikipedia page again, you read the introduction and then you click on a relevant link in the contents. You start filling up the gap that pointed you to this wikipedia page when you find another unfamiliar term which is hyperlinked too (FTW!). And the cycle begins.

If it has not happened to you, doesn't matter. It has happened to me. Many times a day. I will readily confess to be a wikipedia addict. If I don't snort some knowledge everyday, I suffer from withdrawal symptoms. There is the tingling in my fingers reaching to type 'W', 'I', 'K', 'I' in the address bar of my Google Chrome window. My anxiety levels go up (FFS, how can I not check if wikipedia has some information on this?). I get irritable, quite a bit. If at the time some unfortunate bloke makes the grave mistake of asking me a question, I turn in slow motion (like in the movies when an action seen is about to play) and stare back at him with wildly angry eyes. In my head I am shouting 'Wikipedia-it you douche bag!!'. Well sometimes that happens not quite in my head alone.

If I am kept away from wikipedia for any more than a few hours, I develop another very common withdrawal symptom - mental confusion. In those few hours, I seem to lose track of all the information processing that my brain usually does so well with the aid of well-hyperlinked wikipedia pages. I don't know whether the aorta was found before the Greek Parthenon or the Axis of Evil was indeed involved in the Atlantic tsunami. At this point, I sincerely hope that I am given back access to wikipedia. Not to the offline version because there might have been 100,000+ edits since that offline version of yours, I ain't interested in that. I like to snort the fresh stuff.

Anymore time away from wikipedia and things take turn for the worst. This has happened to me only once in my life before. A whole day (yes, 24 hours!) without wikipedia. I don't remember very much, I only have hazy images in my head. People who saw me in that state have said that I did not respond to being called by name. Instead, I was jolly happy (sic) staring at the blank wall. I suspect so many questions may have come to me that they probably stopped the flow of blood to my brain. I don't remember how I returned to normalcy but I have a clear memory of staring at this map.

The doc who attended to me at the time said that when I was finally given access to wikipedia again, I opened a new wikipedia page every five seconds. Of course. No wonder it took me some time to return to my normal speed (three seconds/page). I am not sure he knew enough about my addiction. FFS, the English Wikipedia has 3.7 million articles, how could he not search for my condition on wikipedia??
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