Hi my name is Jonathan and I’m addicted to Russiagate
It started out pretty innocently. I had been feeling really low after the election. Just kind of going through the motions, you know? And one day out of the blue, my friend sends me this link. Some story alleging ties between Trump and Russia. He’s like “dude, you’ve got to read this. It will blow your mind.” So I was like sure, one little look won’t hurt.
Oh man, that rush. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. To find out Trump may have illegally colluded with Russia to win the presidency and it could ruin him before he even starts? In that moment, all my political anxieties melted away and for the first time since election day, I felt good. Really good. People don’t realize it only takes one article to get hooked. That’s what makes Russia so dangerous.
At first it was just an article here and there, only on nights and weekends. Just to relax. But pretty soon, I was hitting paywalls. I started subscribing to newspapers from cities I didn’t live in. I moved from hard news to op-eds. The New York Times and Washington Post turned into Slate and MSNBC. Before I knew it, I was hitting refresh on HuffPo every five minutes jonesing for a breaking news alert.
It’s hard to pinpoint when I first realized I had a problem. It could have been when I said Paul Manafort’s CBS This Morning interview was basically an admission of guilt after a coworker told me his cousin Paul had passed away. Or arguing over how Rudy Giuliani had advanced notice of the Podesta Wikileaks dump in the comments section for a New York strip steak rub recipe on Epicurious.com. Maybe it was when I cited Occupy Democrats as a valid news source. It’s hard to tell. Whenever it was, it was becoming increasingly clear that this lifestyle was unsustainable.
But you don’t just quit Russia. As more connections leaked, I spiraled. I tried to fistfight my neighbor after he referred to the Steele dossier as “uncorroborated.” I called my wife Sergey Kislyak during sex. Not just Sergey. The whole name. I was reading online news 12, maybe 14 hours a day, just looking for my next fix. My marriage and my job were both hanging on by a thread, but it didn’t matter. I would have sponsored the assassination of my own mother if she came between me and a Tweet about the suspicious death of a Russian diplomat.
The days without new information were the hardest. I’d go back and reread old articles, trying to get high off whatever residual news I missed, but it was never the same. My tolerance had built up to the point where only the freshest, most potent leaks had any effect. Russia withdrawal is the worst. I ached all over. My right index finger twitched obsessively, regardless of whether or not it was operating a mouse. Have you ever interrogated your own wife about her 10th grade band trip to St. Petersburg? I have. I’m not proud of my actions, but when Russia has you in its grips, all that matters is that sweet, sweet release of new information according to a source familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
Michael Flynn’s resignation was really the low point for me. My wife had somehow gotten me out of the house for dinner with her parents and made me promise not to mention Russia. As we’re waiting for our food, I feel a buzz in my pocket. I already know it’s a breaking news alert — at this point, I can feel the difference between alerts and texts — and I excuse myself to the bathroom and check my phone.
Oh my God it’s happening, I remember thinking in the middle stall of the Ruby Tuesdays. I was checking The Independent. US Uncut. The /r/conspiracy subreddit. It didn’t matter. I was completely out of control. The next thing I know, the fire department is breaking down the stall door. I’m lying in a puddle of my own urine, pants around my ankles, still scrolling through the comments section of a Youtube vlogger who said he had video evidence that Trump met with Putin on the tarmac at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
I’ve been Russia free for two weeks now. Things are going pretty well. My wife and I are talking again. She’s still at her parents, but I think she’s coming home soon. I deleted all my social media accounts and unsubscribed from all the news alerts. I still think about Russia all the time. How good it made me feel. But I know I can never go back. For me, sobriety is something to take one day at a ti… oops, hang on. Looks like I missed one of those alerts. Silly me. Wait, what? Jeff Sessions spoke to the Russian TWICE during the campaign and may have perjured himself during his confirmation hearing? I knew it! This proves everything. Here, let me show you…