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The Internet Education

Broadband Life and Internet Anxiety Disorder 181

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the do-what-now dept.
ChipGuy writes "Broadband brings the world right to your laptop or your handheld. With it comes information, and along with it comes desire to stay connected, and on top of everything. Om Malik calls it Internet Anxiety Disorder. 'The rush to catch-up and living a six megabits per second lifestyle, is what I think is going to be first major malaise of the 21st century - Internet anxiety disorder,' he says. Firefox developer, Blake Ross thinks that 'Internet hardwires developing brains with a click-happy sense of urgency that will not defer to reality. We are addicted to information and seek it even when we know it's not available.' Others have described this info-addiction as Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder."
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Broadband Life and Internet Anxiety Disorder

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:48AM (#12187654) Homepage Journal
    Part of this is that you have to consider that for many of us, the Internet has become a daily part of our workflow and without it we could not perform in our jobs. I absolutely need the Internet to collaborate with colleagues, and because I am paid to know things and to think, the ability to be able to search for information and access online scientific journals is critical. I cannot believe how much time I spent as a beginning undergraduate in the library looking through actual card catalogues! Now one can survey tremendous amounts of data in very little time, but the tradeoff is that we have become dependent upon the Internet for our data gathering. I will admit however, to also becoming dependent upon the Internet for daily news as well and do feel a sense of loss when disconnected. For instance, when taking hikes or going biking in the mountains for longer than a day, I feel the need for an information fix. Even when traveling nationally or internationally, I ensure that I am connected via broadband, can communicate through iChatAV with colleagues, can post to my blog [utah.edu], can get the latest news as it happens and of course, keep up with Slashdot. :-)

    Of course the referenced links do contain valid points, particularly Rand's blog [randsinrepose.com]. What Rand alludes to however and needs to be learned is the ability to focus and extract the absolutely relevant information related to the task at hand. I've noticed in the undergraduates in particular that have come through the lab that they tend to try and multitask everything, talking on the phone, performing Internet related searches, writing their reports and listening to music while also running an experiment in the background. Almost always, mistakes ensue, the quality of the work suffers, wrong conclusions are drawn and it takes them a couple of months to learn to focus while eliminating some of the competing tasks to ensure quality work for the essential task at hand. Once they learn to focus, not only does the quality of their work improve, but also their ability to extract information from all sorts of tasks including Internet related work. Confusion goes away and is replaced by efficiency of thought and action.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thing is, there's not much we can do about internet addiction [adequacy.org]. It's a sobering thought.
    • The few months after I got my cable modem (all 500K of it), I was totally addicted. Having come from a POTS 1200 baud background on the old Atari 800, this was quite a huge difference.

      Soon after, I had a shitload of useless things running in the taskbar (big clock, weather indicator (like I can't look outside once in a while), dl/ul speed indicators, FTP/IRC/etc. - all sorts of crap. All of it designed to give me more information, most of it useless.

      And yet...

      I couldn't...

      Pull...

      Away!

      At one point I ca

    • ...I am paid to know things and to think...

      I too am paid to know things and to think. When the network/computer/software goes down I can haul out a pencil and a sketchpad to do my job. And that alternative works surprisingly well.

      On the other hand, you'd have to do some fabled mafia-type convincing to take my dual processor AMD machine away from me.
    • I'd have to say that the internet for me is, like you say, an absolutely necessary part of my work life without which I come to a standstill, and ALSO a disorder. For me I think of it as "Message retrieval disorder" the constant need to be checking email, voice mail, snail mail (I had that one long before I had email, I used to go check the mail box on Sunday, just in case...) It really is a compulsion, but unless my connection goes down or I try to go on (gasp) a vacation, it isn't a big enough problem t
  • True. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:48AM (#12187658) Homepage
    My line went down yesterday. Longest 10 seconds of my life.
    • In the future everyone will truly become dependent on the internet as every device we purchase will have it own unique address. You buy a refrigerator and the first thing it will do is go online to verify that you own it and will go through a self test to verify that it is working properly. As with all devices there will be backup circuits which will be used until the primary circuits are replaced. The device will tell you when it has ordered any new device which it thinks it needs. No one will be steal
      • ...You buy a refrigerator and the first thing it will do is go online...

        I will never buy such a refrigerator or whatever appliance connected to the Internet. A virus comes along and turns it off and all the food rots! Thanks, but NO thanks. Just because something CAN be done, does not mean it should be. I think predictions like this are like the flying car articles in Popular Science etc. in the 50s telling us by the turn of the millenium everybody will be flying everywhere in their own personal flying mac
  • just like me constantly refreshing the "nothing to see here, please move along" page, only to read the comments that aren't even there jet...

    • Is it possible for us to develope something new without immediately attributing some sort of disorder to it?

      Our brain allows us to filter out material that we don't need. Most normal individuals have no problem dealing with this.

      ~X~
  • Old standards ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foobsr (693224) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:50AM (#12187667) Homepage Journal
    Even though the online page says "come back on day X", students still checked the page frequently. This is what I mean when I say it's impossible to evaluate my generation's behavior according to old standards or even according to common sense; I really believe the Internet hardwires developing brains with a click-happy sense of urgency that will not defer to reality. We are addicted to information and seek it even when we know it's not available. (Blake Ross)

    Already about thirty years ago I observed people who ran obviously faulty pieces of code a second time hoping for a different outcome; my guess is that humans love voodo but that it ususally does not work. So I do not believe that there is another "Generation X" (whatever).

    CC.
    • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:59AM (#12187736) Homepage
      Don't forget channel surfing, which has been around for decades. Many people sit in front of the tv for hours, flipping through the channels over and over looking for something good to watch, even though they just cycled through all the same channels a minute ago and know that the same shows are still on.
    • Already about thirty years ago I observed people who ran obviously faulty pieces of code a second time hoping for a different outcome; my guess is that humans love voodo but that it ususally does not work. So I do not believe that there is another "Generation X" (whatever).

      It's like the guy who sits through the horror movie, and shouts "Don't go down into the basement".

      Of course the main character went down into the basement, and got everyone killed.

      Afterwards, he said "I figured they'd have learned by

    • Kinda like when I'm hankering for a snack and I go to the fridge, only to find nothing. Then a few minutes later, I'll go again - just to see if anything has magically materialized in the interim...
      • Yeah, I have a Schroedinger's refrigerator also, but mainly because I am so tall and my fridge has alot of low shelves. There are things I'll miss until I really get hungry, squat down, and take a good close look. Excuses aside, I keep hoping for that extra snack which is still edible yet hidden... :)
    • I observed people who ran obviously faulty pieces of code a second time hoping for a different outcome
      I'm just a student but it happens all the time to my friends when they try to play with pointers in C. Try looking for bugs in typedef char **(*something)(int *, char*);! Another funny behaviour is: program segfaults, debug program and... it works because the debugger initialises all the variables but there are other errors I've got a hard time to find.
    • by ikkonoishi (674762)
      Its just operant conditioning in action.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinner_box [wikipedia.org]

      You check the link and it has updated off schedule once, and it encourages you to check it repeatedly just in case.

      For me when I run a faulty code segment a second time, I am just trying to figure out what the exact cause of the error is.
    • The only problem with the example is that many people realize that the date given is a deadline for a decision / the data to be available and is not necessarily the time that the information will be published. I would imagine this to be true of students in particular as, at least in my experience, schools often will publish information as it is available but publish a deadline they know they can meet.

      Just a thought.

    • If they had a fault in their code, it probably wasn't obvious to them! As an animal with a 2 second "is this useful? no? toss it" memory, I always find myself doing simple things twice. The first time is "did it work? yes? next". If it fails, I probably wasn't paying attention to what may have caused it -- my thoughts were probably elsewhere. Granted, working on a piece of code should lend some merit to more careful concentration, but if I noticed a piece of my code failing, the most likely thing I woul
    • I ran broken code lots of times. Seeing an error occur helps focus the mental process to figure out how to fix it. Just think of when anything breaks. You KNOW it's broken, but if you turn it on a few times again it forces you to sequentially go over each part of the process up until the point where it breaks.

    • Already about thirty years ago I observed people who ran obviously faulty pieces of code a second time hoping for a different outcome; my guess is that humans love voodo but that it ususally does not work. So I do not believe that there is another "Generation X" (whatever).


      Dude, that's just human nature.

      How many times have you stood in an elevator lobby, and watched somebody push the LIT UP arrow button?

      Ask anybody, and they'll tell you that the fact that the light is lit means that somebody's alr
    • Already about thirty years ago I observed people who ran obviously faulty pieces of code a second time hoping for a different outcome
      I started doing it myself after I personally witnessed it work once. YMMV.
  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:51AM (#12187681)
    Obsessive compulsive disorder for one. And masturbation! And anti-social disorder. And nerdiness!
  • NADD? That was seriously the best that they could come up with??
  • by Physician (861339) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:51AM (#12187683) Homepage
    While nerds are kept busy with the internet and counseling sessions, gorgeous women everywhere are free to live their lives without fear of nerds asking them out.
    • Come on! When was the last time a nerd actually asked a girl out? If anything, it will be a disaster for those girls because they'd have to start doing their own math homework!
  • Strange (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:51AM (#12187685)
    The rush to catch-up and living a six megabits per second lifestyle

    and yet the first site they jump on is Slashdot, which usually has the effect of slowing the servers it mentions down to a crawl...
  • by Cylix (55374) *
    I still can't believe this isn't an April Fools article.

    Someone must be late to the game.
  • by konkani (761433) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:52AM (#12187693)
    Thanks to the Internet, the majority are alienated from the mainstream.
    • Hilarious!

      I recall my first episode. Once in 1993, I lived in a place where the closest dial-up center was a long distance call, my computer was in storage, and I was totally broke. For 3 months I couldn't access my Delphi account. I felt so totally disconnected from the world -- it was horrible -- painful even.

      That was before I had an always on broadband connection. I don't know what I'd do now if I lost it.
  • by joelparker (586428) <joel@school.net> on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:54AM (#12187701) Homepage
    I've already read about this on Fark, Boing Boing, and Wired. Blogging on it's so last month and I've already IM'ed on it with my FOAF pals. If you want to know more-- oops gotta go-- my Treo's got an SMS!
  • by ZorMonkey (653731) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:54AM (#12187706)
    Yeah, like I'm going to tell people that I have NADD.
  • Yeah, I know this thing. It's the reason i've started going downhill in school; I can't get away from my PC. Now, I must revise. Ooh, Half-Life 2!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:56AM (#12187713)
    I'm sure hunter-gatherers had the same desire to stay on top of everything in the forest. The brain can be overloaded at much less than six megabits per second. You can become paranoid without this so-called click-happy sense of urgency. If you really think about all the smells entering your nose, the wind through the leaves, the snapping of twigs in the distance, you can fully wig yourself out. It's not about technology, it's about devoting too much of your consciousness to any of your senses for too long. I suggest meditation, jogging, or any exercise that turns off that over-active cortex and sends you to another place. The internet is just a new form of stimulus that you can dwell on too much. Nothing special. Nothing new.
    • by BlueFashoo (463325) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:29PM (#12187910)
      This is why people have a large portion of their brain dedicated to ignoring stuff.

      It's True!

      The thalamus filters information heading towards the cortex, and the reticular activating system (in the brain stem) filters out extraneous information, i.e. constantly present odors, background hums, etc. You'd go crazy if this was broken.
    • While I mostly agree with your comments, there are certainly cultures that would be more prone to this overloading than others (namely, industrialized Western society.) "I'm sure hunter-gatherers had the same desire to stay on top of everything in the forest" contains a bit of naive realism - assuming that other cultures view the world the same way ours does. Hunter-gatherers actually have a very easygoing lifestyle, with much less time per day spent laboring or attaining food than in industrialized or agri
      • ...Western expressions, where we feel the need to control our surroundings and know everything...

        Even living in an industrialized society does not force anyone to be anxious to control and know. Anyone can march to the beat of a different drummer and there is no need to allow the culture to squeeze anyone into a particular mold. Everyone has choices and then has to live with the results of those. Your TV and computer has an OFF switch, which only YOU control. Use it, and then go outside, especially in this
    • See above where I comment about what I hereby dub News Anxiety Disorder, the compulsion to know "what's happening" and a sort of panic attack when prevented from doing so. You make a good point that even in the most primitive times, there probably were people who just HAD to keep track of how many bison were in every herd they knew about, how many birds their neighbour shot last week, how many people complained of the smell from the privy, etc, etc, as if their lives depended on it. Perhaps it's fundamental
    • Self-hypnosis is also very relaxing (and arguably, the same thing, or at least an overlapping thing with meditation, yoga, etc..)

  • > We are addicted to information and seek it even when we know it's not available

    What the hell does he mean by "not available"?

    It's plenty available!

    I mean, I watched the cute Flash animation for ThinkGeek and got my Day Pass. I see the article in the Mysterious Future. I click on it. It's under construction. I click on it again. It's still under construction. I click on it again. I [several hundred pageviews omitted in the interest of brevity] click on it again - at last! I can post!

  • N.A.D.D? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Deitheres (98368) <brutalentropyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:57AM (#12187719)
    I, for one, am against the usage of any acronym that is so close to nad. In fact, the pronounciation would be exactly the same.

    That would like the Society for Trendy Undeserving People Instigating Debate
  • NADD? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    SHouldn't be Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder.

    I reckon: Nerd Attention Deficiency Syndrome would be better.

    NADS for short. Perhaps it's a load of bollocks...
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @11:59AM (#12187732)
    The rush to catch-up and living a six megabits per second lifestyle...

    I'm sorry but this line kills me... some computer dork trying to sound cool was like a car guy quoting Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious...

    I live my life a quarter mile at a time, nothing else matters, for those ten seconds or less, I'm free.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:05PM (#12187775) Homepage Journal
    Shutdown slashdot for a few days, see whether all the geeks become anxious.
  • by Artifakt (700173)
    This sounds a lot like what William Gibson called NAS (Neural Attenuation Syndrome) in Johnny Mnemonic. It's also been described by Vinge in True Names, and in half a dozen other SF stories under a variety of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and ETLAs (Extended TLAs). This article represents yet another victim of EPAS (Endlessly Proliferating Acronym Syndrome). Add to its list of symptoms, the inability to find out that others have already coined acronyms and there's no need for a new one. Obviously, we must gi
    • This sounds a lot like what William Gibson called NAS (Neural Attenuation Syndrome) in Johnny Mnemonic.
      NAS wasn't in the book, only in the (naff) film adaptation, where it was "Nerve Attenuation Syndrome", not "Neural".
      There's "brain-cell attenuation" in Dogfight, that the ex-fighter pilot Tiny has from being pumped full of drugs whilst flying.
      • My mistake on "Neural" v. "Nerve", but Gibson did write the screenplay himself, (or at least that's how the credits read), so he must approve of it.
        • Gibson did write the screenplay himself, (or at least that's how the credits read), so he must approve of it.
          True - but the film was pretty awful.
  • For this same reason, I check the Slashdot RSS feed continuously when browsing even though fairly often. This despite the fact that I often get the sense that "there is nothing to see here...move along"

    I guess it doesn't help that it is so easy to open a gazillion articles in Firefox tabs and the fact that I have 50+ RSS feeds in the browser.
  • NOBODY RAID! THIS IS A MOVE!!

    Back off, all of you! I've got an 'OFF' switch in one hand, and a pair of dikes in the other, and I'm NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM!!!

  • I walk in the door and within thirty seconds of hanging up my keys I've logged back into the main machine and flipped open the lid on the iBook, even if I'm only coming home to change clothes and head back out the door in five minutes. If I'm at home or at work, it's exceedingly rare that I go more than an hour without hitting news.google.com, topix.net and slashdot.org. Of course, I generally know what's going on in the world in a pretty timely manner, even if I don't have (or take) the time to learn anyth
  • by kfg (145172) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:14PM (#12187826)
    It's what we do. Information is always available, unless you're in a sensory deprivation tank or something, in which case you may well start hallucinating, because you aren't "addicted" to information; you require it for proper functioning.

    I think some people are addicted to labling everything as an addiction.

    Maybe it has something to do with our rather bizzare cultural perception that if you're enjoying yourself you must be mentally ill.

    Actually, now that I think about it, given the state of our culture, they might have a point.

    KFG
    • I Absolutely agree with you. What diferenciates us from the rest of the species on this planet is our mind. We really are information processing beings, And, yes, a big part of this society has developed a fear for knowledge and for joy in general (knowledge is pleasure); and so any activity that is enjoyed and that demands a lot of time, but is not something a dog would enjoy, is called an adiction.

      This is the single most insightfull post i have seen on /. in a long long time ...

      Thank you, you made my da
    • Addiction is NOT the *need* for something. It is the *inability to function without* that something.

      So this isn't about the normal need for relevant information. It's about an abnormal requirement for information (relevant or not), and individuals who feel panic when deprived of that information. It's been around forever; availability of a new medium doesn't change that.

      I personally know two people who literally have panic attacks if they are prevented from watching the evening TV news.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      We ARE information processing machines, but garbage in still gets you garbage out. Do most people need up to date news on (potpourri topics) when they could be spending the same time processing information on subjects that they actually excel at? Just because you're "processing" a bunch of information doesn't mean that it's useful, productive, or even a good thing.
  • Our parents were always heading outside to play baseball, while we stay inside and play Quake, leran about obscure topics, or program something we thought about earlier in the day.

    Their parents were always criticizing them for having wild parties and never doing their studies because they're always playing X or Y.

    In turn, they criticize our generation for the different lifestyle that we lead.

    Simple fact of the matter is that these are different times. If you are a parent worried about your kids' attenti
    • ur parents were always heading outside to play baseball, while we stay inside and play Quake, leran about obscure topics, or program something we thought about earlier in the day.

      Their parents were always criticizing them for having wild parties and never doing their studies because they're always playing X or Y.

      In turn, they criticize our generation for the different lifestyle that we lead.


      i agree with you, except that "going outside to play baseball" and "sitting on the internet all day and night" ar
      • I'm the same way.

        With regards to health, I think my original argument made allowances for that; if you are worried about your kids' health, you won't let them sti around on their asses all day. Brianrot and attention span have little to do with parental concerns at that point.

        With regards to the fast paced, check up on /., email, CNN, my favorite 15 different websites 3 times a day, we're all the same way in this respect.

        All I'm saying is that it is no less productive than playing around outside or thr
  • Only In America (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Only in America do people feel the need to define themselves by 'disorders'
  • Using the Internet to gather news, it's obvious that there's more news than can be read in a day, created each and every day. It is unfathomable to me that someone could become depressed with such limitless access to information and humour everywhere around them.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by kakashiryo (866772)
    ...if I'm not in denial, I get a cookie and a free iPod, yes?
  • Not New (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cookie_cutter (533841) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:39PM (#12187955)
    This is just info-porn addiction in a new medium. 15 years ago we were discussing the same topic with regards to people who obsessively watch cable news channels. Sure, the internet version will have it's own unique twists, but let's have some sense of history, please.
  • A compulsive behaviour has been identified among comportementalists ; it appears that each time a pleasurable activty goes mainstream, a fair share of those scientists can't help themselves from labelling it "syndrom".

    For instance, they tried for years to prove unsucessfully that coffee drinking was bad, they've put thousands of childs under chemicals for behaving like kids, they managed to put a ban for years on alcohol drinking, they suspiciously look under your bed sheets to make sure you don't obsessiv

  • I find that any internet addiction I may have disappears very quickly when I visit my parents. They still dial in to the local provider, and because they live in the middle of nowhere, the top speed they get is 24kbps. Even email checking can get really painful at that level, and don't even try to IM someone at the same time!

    A good book and maybe a paper take care of my time then.
  • by drac0n1z (824583)
    I was forced offline by my parents for three days for anti-social behaviour (not talking to them) and I ended up extremly depressed by the 3rd day since I couldn't distract myself with information. wikipedia, ./ , http://www.livescience.com/ and http://www.physorg.com/ . when I got back on the net I read everything I missed, got new anime episodes ect.. Right now I'm browsing, playing Dune2 with dosbox, watching an episode of Friends, chatting and compiling wine.. and I feel happy.. sometimes I add an anime
  • by Asprin (545477) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (dlonrasg)> on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:34PM (#12188251) Homepage Journal
    F5....
    F5....
    F5....

    Come on! Post a new article already!

    F5....
    F5....
    F5....
    F5....
  • Eh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:59PM (#12188384)
    living a six megabits per second lifestyle

    Constructs like that make me want to hit people with a baseball bat.

    is what I think is going to be first major malaise of the 21st century

    You mispelled "excuse"

  • This may be true if I am at home and the connection goes down. I don't have anything else planned necessarily, so I'm kind of anxious for the connection to come back up. But I can also take 2 weeks to go camping and I feel fine. I would like to be able to check my email to see if anyone is trying to contact me, but I'm not going to be driven insane due to that. But that's no different than having a phone and checking your voicemail.
  • Could be worse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sagenumen (62467)
    In today's world where ignorance seems to be praised by many, if there's any addiction we need more of, it's an addiction of information and learning more.
  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Saturday April 09, 2005 @02:29PM (#12188537)
    Seriously. Short of unplugging (which I can't do because I need the Internet to do work too) and going cold-turkey.
    • I've always worked from home and most times the work computer was in the living room so no separation between life/work. However, it was dialup and the computer would crash every couple of hours. Sometimes it wasn't even on.

      Now that's all different. It's more effort to turn the computer off. All those times during the day when I want a little piece of information like the forecast or when a movie is playing take only 1 second to find out but it encourages you to keep the thing on all the time 24 hour
    • Edit your hosts file to redirect any distracting sites to localhost. Change permissions so you can't edit, and change ownership, hopefully to a friend. Give it time. Don't use the web unless you need it for a work related function.
  • I dunno these days they'll diagnose anything as a disease, disorder or syndrome. In fact anyone that hasn't got a syndrome is probably suffering from "No Syndrome Syndrome".
  • Really Nothing New (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The internet's exact nature is, of course, different from anything that has come before, but it is still information and we can still control it. I'm certainly not at the top of the heap in my interconnectedness, but I am usually online with my Powerbook, IM over three services, text message, check sites like Slashdot and Fark several times a day, a plethora of other sites at least once a day, and news sites often once an hour or so, use a cell which I also IM from, get entertainment content over P2P, subsc
  • Log off (Score:4, Funny)

    by sammyo (166904) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @04:59PM (#12189236) Journal
    I can log off anytime I want. This is not an addiction, I just choose to be online. I don't have to be connected, it's just, you know, like chocolate, it's good, satisfying, it's where it's at.

    But I could stop anytime I want. Really.

  • My two year old has this kind of anxiety whenever we tell her "no" or "wait".

    Coincidence? I highly doubt it.

  • "I woke up this morning and decided -- you know...I should go online. Someone called me a NADD. Well. I was suitably offended and right away I called them a PIG. See if they call me a NADD again, they'll regret it." -Jack Handey

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