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An individual types on a keyboard (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)
An individual types on a keyboard (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)

The Week

To save our careers, (nay, our souls!) we need to step away from our keyboards Add to ...

Okay, quiet down and put away your phones, please. You won’t be needing them any more. I’m glad you could all join me here today. I’ll be your new keyboard companion.

Now some of you are wondering what that might mean, so I’ll tell you. You’ve heard about sober companions, right? They keep addicts on the straight and narrow, tell ’em that drugs lead to ruin or, even worse, to a VH1 show. They tell drunks there’s no point watching the film Flight, because they’ll never look or smell as nice as Denzel Washington.

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I know you don’t have problems with pills or booze. Your problems are much worse, because you’re a new kind of addict. You can’t step away from the goddamn computer! I’m sorry for the rough language, but this is a battle for your very souls. I’ve prised men’s cold, dead fingers off keyboards after they’ve told me, “One more e-mail, I can handle it,” or “If I can just retweet this, I’ll stop, I promise.”

Well, you can’t handle it, and you won’t stop. Just look at them fancy folks in Washington – they couldn’t stop, even if they knew it would ruin ’em. The man who’s running the war in Afghanistan, he couldn’t stop. He sent that pretty lady in Florida a whole bunch of e-mails. What in God’s name could they have been talking about? IEDs in Kandahar? The best J.C. Penney in Tampa? I noticed that USA Today called that lady, Jill Kelley, a “party ambassador.” I wish my guidance counsellor had told me about that career path. I wouldn’t be sitting here with you folks, slapping your fingers every time you reach for the send key.

The woman who started the whole thing, the one who’s said to have had an affair with that General Petraeus, she didn’t learn to step away from the computer. No sir. There she was, in between running her six-minute miles and working in military intelligence and raising children, and she still had time to fire off a bunch of e-mails calling another lady a “seductress.” Listen closely, because this is Lesson No. 1: If you find yourself late at night hunched over a keyboard typing the word “seductress” instead of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos with your kids, you’ve got to give me a call immediately, because you’re in trouble. Also if you find yourself typing “hussy,” “slut,” “flighty baggage” or any variation thereof. You’ll know you have a problem and you need my help.

I know it’s hard. I know about temptation, and I know that Twitter icon can glow like the world’s most perfect margarita after a day’s hard walk through the desert. “I got one more joke in me!” you think. And then you end up like that football player in Canada – what the hell is Canadian football, anyway? – that Nik Lewis fellow, who sent out a tweet saying: “I just bought OJ’s gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole.”

I could have helped him, if only he’d had the guidance of a keyboard companion. I would have said, “I know it seems funny in your head, Nik, but it ain’t gonna seem so funny out there.” This is Lesson No. 2, so listen up: No jokes about murder victims or genocide. I put that on some Post-it notes. I’ll hand them out at the end of the class.

I nearly saved Anthony Weiner, by the way. I was just minutes from arriving at his house to tell him, “Nobody wants to see a picture of Little Anthony, not even your ma.” But the congressman sent that picture, then he lost his job, and no one knows where the Anthonys are today. I’ll take that regret to my grave.

I thought I’d seen it all, but then one of my graduates – four months clean, not one e-mail or tweet sent – showed me the fight between the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas. No, not the one on the streets; I’ve grown used to that. The smackdown on Twitter, where they get all cat fight and one side boasts, “Don’t show your faces around here,” and the other side says something about opening the gates of Hell. What? No, I don’t know which said what. Does it matter? It’s not Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, for God’s sake. Those boys are tweeting a war! They need my help.

All right, I think that’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about why topless photos never belong on phones, and how to stage a Facebook intervention, for the out-of-control updaters in your life. Remember: If you have to send an e-mail tonight, make it so clean your mom could read it. Recovery starts here.

Follow on Twitter: @lizrenzetti

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