Addicted to Addiction

Plata o Plomo? 

Sleep or no sleep?

It was 3.21 A.M. Everything in the building was as silent as a tomb, except for the sound of the ventilator in my laptop which was wheezing like an asthma patient during a marathon. My eyes were fatigued by the blue, fluorescent light emanated by my laptop screen depriving me of my precious melatonin and throwing my circadian rhythm more out of whack than a smile in North Korea. My arm was going numb every five minutes from the weight of my head resting on it. My neck had given up on supporting my upper-body cerebral Kinder Surprise in this 45-degree inclined angle a long time ago, and rested in the pillow that had now permanently taken the shape of a dried taco-chip. My mouth had grown as dry as the Atacama desert, my eyes as tired as the weary doctor ending his graveyard-shift. I was just about to embark on the 10th episode of Netflix’s latest form of legal drug, Narcos. ‘Just one more, I’m almost at the end’ I pleaded with myself like a cheap crack-whore looking for a quick fix in the dark and somber alley called Bingestreet.

It was then, at that very moment in between episodes, when Netflix was purging the last bytes of the old episode and preloading the new one, that it promptly asked the completely rhetorical and self-exploring question:

Are you sure you’re still watching “Narcos?”

I’ve already told you that my biggest fear for the future is sassy programming, and now my reaction could only be summarized (in a thematically correct way) like :

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I was in the same state of passive-agressive panic you are struck with when you finish the assembly of your latest piece of Ikea furniture, only to see that there are still six bolts left and a big piece of unused wood. The initial elated feeling that makes you feel as proud as a peacock, since for a brief minute you actually thought that you could correctly read and interpret an Ikea manual, vanished immediately.

I quickly regained my composure however, and my anger flared up faster than a hillbilly’s blood-alcohol level at a Nascar event.

HOW DARE YOU? Here I had been spending hours and hours of my life on you, cultivating both my viewership and my scoliosis for you. And you betray, stab me in the back, like this? Asking me redundant and self-confronting questions? Yes, I know I shouldn’t be up at this hour of the night, glued to my computer screen like a golden chain on a rapper, watching a fictitious rendition of real events. I know. Don’t question my choice. I’ve obviously to go down a path from which I know there is no return, and in stead of questioning me you should embrace my poor decision-making skills.

It was then that a question dawned on me. What had I become? I was willingly setting myself up for a horrible next day at the office when I would eventually wake up, some three hours later. I had been in a state of physical agony for the last couple of hours, lying there waiting in a position that could only be an invitation to be painted ‘like one of the French girls’. I had placed myself in all of that torment, to watch something to which I already knew the outcome. What kind of self-fulfilling monster had I become? Who was the culprit? Who was to blame for this? Weirdly enough, these questions are as much applicable to serial bingewatchers as they are to real-life drug addicts. We’re all one big family really.

It was during a subsequent discussion with a like-minded friend that the long sought-after clairvoyance on the subject of addiction erupted : is there anything more beautiful than addiction to addiction ? The subconscious is a wavering and irrational thing, misguiding us and making is prone to subliminal advertising. Like a young naive, blonde college freshman at a frat party, it gets easily distracted by seemingly nice things. Here we have a show whose premise is amongst others depicting how addiction is the genesis of both the rise and downfall of all parties involved -regardless if its money or drugs that they’re after -, and yet, this very same show warning us for the consequences of addiction is itself hugely addictive. There’s something absolutely amazing in that, and more so even maybe in the fact the irony that comes from not recognizing a growing addiction while watching something about addiction.

But Narcos doesn’t only cover the topic of drug addiction. It also covers the most malignant types of addiction, the addiction to power, and the inherently fleeting nature of it. Escobar obviously didn’t see himself as a bad guy, and probably would have fancied himself a fanatic of Plato if he had lived in the era of the Greeks. Didn’t Plato tell us that one of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors? You can’t deny that Escobar at least tried to do something about that, even if it was a road laden with bad judgement and monstrous mistakes. Good people don’t need laws to tell them to act responsibly, and bad people will always find a way around those laws. As our friends Cicero puts it nicely, the more laws, the less justice. In hindsightEscobar might have been the one carving that way all along.

So really, the real dichotomy here is not Plata o Plomo, but Plato o Plomo? 

Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs. So why do people abandon all their independence, their freedom of will ? People who are prone to being addicted to (illegal) substances are usually essentially addicted to thinking as well, so that they have such a toxic, compulsive relationship with their own thinking, that they are willing to lose control over their own actions and voluntarily relinquish consciousness, in order to escape the self-imposed prison of their own thinking. But in a way, not that I’ve stepped into the twilight zone myself, I admire addicts. In a world where everyone is making decisions based on the uncertainty of death, the next natural disaster, an uncertain promotion, the addict rests in the comfort of knowing what’s most likely down the road for him. In some ways, he’s taken more control by surrendering all control than the ones thinking they are in control. They are the true masters of their fate.

So, all in all, is it worth it? Is it really worth it to add yet another potential source of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and what not to reduce your already short life expectancy? FUCK YES. Anyone telling you otherwise has clearly never been but before the dichotomy that is Narcos or no Narcos? Plata o Plomo ? Day or night? I will take all of it. Certain things in life just have to be experienced and never explained, binge-watching is just one of those.

Somewhere far away there’s an executive sitting ominously in the dark, in an egg-chair in front of a wall of screens muttering ‘excellent’ in a dark, gravelly voice as he realized his plans worked out perfectly. You have won good sir, you have won.

Somos banditos hermano, somos banditos.

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