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Addicted to Messages

I felt regret. Shame. Yet I had no intention of curbing my behavior. But I confessed to Husband the evil deed that occupies my nights when he is not with me.

I spend many nights with Husband away until morning -at the very least - thanks to his job and our cabin. Faced with an evening alone, I often make grandiose plans. The children are in bed by 8. I make designs to work on lectures. Paint the living room. Put every swim club member's relevant data into a beautiful, if cumbersome, Excel spreadsheet.

Sometimes, I land on the side of taking care of Pope-pourri. I commit to going to bed early with a good book or new movie. Last night it was Green Room. Not a bad selection, if you were thinking of checking it out yourself.

Sadly, by the time I've spent twelve hours single parenting, I am often in no condition to perform any of these tasks. I collapse into bed and channel surf for - fingers crossed -  a Star Trek: TNG marathon on BBC America. Failing that, any previously viewed science fiction film will work. Jurassic ParkJaws. Deep Blue SeaFriends works too, although it's not sci-fi. I'm not overly picky with my background noise.

With the programming settled upon, I reach for one of my less intense books. But I rarely crack it open. Because something will happen with Rachel or Chief Brody or genetically modified sharks that so peaks my curiosity I'll need to open my IMDb app.

And the next thing I know, I'm in the IMDb hole.

Look, we all have addictions, right?

Starbucks and lava cakes. Those are my main compulsions. But I also have way too many bottles of Essie. I can't live without a steady stream of everything Showtime produces. I own every T-shirt collection J. Crew has ever produced.

We all have foibles. They make us human. I feel no shame over my full complement of pay cable channels and 13 shades of blue nail polish. In fact, I think keeping abreast of everything Carrie, Jim Gordon, and Jon Snow do while wearing Essie in After School Boy Blazer blue makes me a happier, and therefore better, person.

And I hope that gives you permission to say the same about yourself.

One of, shall we say, a collective.

But my IMDb addiction is shameful. Undignified. Untoward, even. Untoward. Because of the IMDb message boards.

A primer on IMDb: IMDb means "Internet Movie Database". For every actor, director, movie, TV show, or anything else associated with visual, recorded entertainment, IMDb has a dedicated page. Want to know how old Cher is? Look her up in IMDb. Not sure if Wally or The Beav is still alive? IMDb. How much money did Goodfellas gross? Who wrote What Lies Beneath? What year did Just One Of The Guys come out? All of it is on IMDb.

For each person, film, or TV show's page, there is associated data. What drew me to IMDb? The page for each entity on IMDb offers trivia on that entity. Did you know Counselor Troi almost had three breasts? Did you know the Beverly Hills, 90210 sound stage was next to an adult film sound stage? Did you know that Brock was supposed to die in the first season of Banshee? You would if you read the IMDb trivia pages.

I'm awesome at a party.

I maybe have a problem with books, too.
This is my "to read" pile.

There's also "Goofs" for each TV show and movie. I don't like reading about a movie or TV show's goofs. I think it's pretty lousy to torpedo someone else's work. And did you really expect Jaws 4 to be cinematically perfect?

But I read the goofs anyway. See, at the end of each "Goofs" section is a subsection called "Incorrectly Regarded As Goofs". A "Goofs" of the "Goofs" if you will. Because we all love to tell someone when they are wrong.

Pretty sure that's lava cake. And Starbucks
in the sippy.

Like all addictions, this one started out innocently enough. I love TV. I love movies. I have occasion to require more information about my viewing. So I began using IMDb's website.

And as is often the case with addiction, the website eventually was no longer enough. My curiosity needed to be sated more quickly, aka instant gratification.

I was forced to download the IMDb app.

Husband's iPhone sports apps like NPR and BBC. Mine has IMDb and Fandango. We are the very embodiment of Paula Abdul's philosophy on relationships.

For what it's worth, if BBC the app had Star Trek: TNG marathons like BBC the cable channel, I'd download it.

Once I had the IMDb app, things progressed at an alarming rate. Which brings me to the conundrum I now face.

Everything on IMDb has a Message board.

The Message boards. They will be my death. It's where my addiction spirals out of control.

I'm not smiling until someone pokes
a fork in that thing so I can
verify it's a lava cake.

These Message boards are like the documentary Room 237: the participants consume entertainment with a perspective that is foreign. To me, at least. Yet I can't stop myself from taking a good long visit in their world.

For example, on the Friends Message board there is a regular poster we'll call Brix. Brix appears to be deeply despised amongst the Friends Message board community because Brix firmly believes that the character Ross is an abuser. Brix makes a compelling argument, citing specifics in Ross' behavior that are consistent with known abuser traits.

Now, I know - and hopefully you know too - that Ross was not an abuser. How do we know? Because Ross is fictional. And what with his being fictional and all, there is nothing that Ross did or experienced that we, the viewer, were not made privy. Ross never abused onscreen. There was never an onscreen discussion about Ross having abused offscreen. Therefore, Ross is not an abuser because Ross is not real.

Yet Brix argues, over and over, in his (her?) - and others' - posts that Ross is an abuser. And the rest of the Friends Message board community persists in offering counter arguments, trolling Brix, and even blocking Brix's posts from their feed.

There's also a post that suggests Joey later became a rapist because he indicated that sex with a sleeping partner is acceptable. Since there was no more Joey after Joey, we can say with certainty that Joey did not become a rapist in his post-Friends world.

Then there's the poster we'll call Candy. Candy posts about Star Trek: TNG and Friends - about ten to fifteen posts a day. A day. Women are fighting for more time home with their children, yet somehow Candy's job yields enough downtime to watch these TV shows, comment on them, then comment on the comments? Ladies, what are we doing wrong?

Now, nine out of ten Candy posts are mundane, banal observations on NCC-1701. Central Perk. The Borg. But every once in awhile, Candy sneaks in a vitriolic observation that earns Candy the hatred normally reserved for Brix. One poster, Sir Wall, has gone so far as to start a petition to have IMDb permanently block Candy from ever posting on IMDb.

I'm feeling like Sir Wall is maybe Candy's employer. Or spouse.

Well, Candy says that she (he?) is not responsible for the nasty posts. Candy maintains that a hacker has hacked Candy's IMDb account and that said hacker is responsible for anything unsavory that pops up under Candy's handle. But Sir Wall - and others - have a rather shocking conspiracy regarding Candy's hacker. Sir Wall et al believe that Candy is Candy's own hacker, that Candy is lying so that Candy can be occasionally profane without taking responsibility, apologizing, or suffering the consequences.

That is a staged-moon-landing-sized conspiracy theory. Do you even need TV when you have the IMDb Message boards?

I don't care where you pumped this from.
It's not Starbucks.

The only thing that separates me from the IMDb Message board posters is that I don't have an IMDb account. I refuse to stand at the precipice of that slippery slope. With an IMDb account, I would easily start responding. It's so hard to stand by quietly while Message posters speculate nonsense like  anything medical ever posted on the Grey's Anatomy Message board.

But when viewers and critics alike began bashing the very excellent Star Trek Beyond, I wanted to show Captain Kirk and Justin Lin my support. I couldn't leave them to wonder where my love had gone. So I went onto Fandango and rated the movie. Then I went onto IMDb to rate the movie.

And discovered that to do so, one needs to set up an IMDb account.

What to do? What to do?! The Trek universe needs to know I am behind it 100%. But an IMDb account....that would mean I could respond to posts. I would no longer suffer in silence when someone posts something I find ridiculous. I could block Brix. I could join Sir Wall's petition. I could be a Brix. I could be a Sir Wall.

No. No, no, no, no. Aside from not wanting to join that group - I have a very Groucho Marx-ish feeling about the IMDb posters - I would never want anyone to know that I - me - that I was trying to wage a war of common sense with people who clearly are not enamored of it to begin with.

So I presented my dilemma to Husband. And he made a startling suggestion.

I could open an account under a fake name.

It turns out that Husband has a standard fake name, like Regina Phalange. He uses it when he doesn't want his actual name associated with something. I've known him sixteen years, share children, a mortgage, a mouthwash bottle with him. But I did not know this. Instantly suspicious, I made a mental note to check our marriage license. He's always said our marriage ceremony was invalid because we were married in a Lutheran church and God doesn't recognize Lutheranism, but now I suspect it's because he didn't sign our marriage certificate correctly. I may, in fact, be Mrs. Phalange.

In the end, I compromised. I set up an IMDb account, but with a gibberish password that I neither recorded nor remember. I used my old email address that, at last count, had over 5000 messages in it - something I will never wade through to find a password retrieval link. I showed Beyond my love. I left Brix, Candy, and even Sir Wall to their Friends-centric universe.

There's so much more we could discuss about IMDb. But Husband is away tonight and "Nick at Nite" just started the Friends arc in which Ross and Rachel realize they are each other's lobster. I'm thinking Brix may fire off a few posts.

Which I won't read. When I don't go onto IMDb. And reset my account. With a password I'll both record and remember. And Mrs. Phalange would make a great screen name....

This post first appeared on Pope-pourri, please read the originial post: here

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Addicted to Messages


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