Joco Diversions

What do Words with Friends and Martha Stewart have in common? Addictiveness

Martha Stewart arrives to court in New York in this March 2013 file photo. Her once-addictive hold on one columnist’s life has been replaced by Words with Friends.
Martha Stewart arrives to court in New York in this March 2013 file photo. Her once-addictive hold on one columnist’s life has been replaced by Words with Friends. AP

Hello, my name is Stacey and I’m a reformed Martha Stewart addict, but now the game Words with Friends has taken over my soul ...

My pitiful addiction story started in the 1990s when I hoarded all of Martha Stewart’s magazine articles and books. It appeared harmless at first. Then, her television program ran, where she had the innate gift of making viewers feel inadequate about how uncrafty they were.

Her gorgeous autumn magazine appeared in my mailbox and I would cancel all plans, just so I could have an evening alone with Martha. Then, I’d create the perfect cup of tea, which I would pluck from the November 1994 issue (page 45) and curl up with under my crocheted blanket Martha had designed and I created the previous season.

After applying a dab of lavender to the light bulb, I could savor her every word and find peace.

I swear to you I was not the only person under her powers; her masses of followers couldn’t give her up. The event that pushed me off the ledge, draped with tea-dyed antique doilies and pearls, was when I labeled our guest linen closets with my label maker.

Each towel was properly folded and placed in descending order according to size and color. A few of us Martha’s Martyrs knew something wasn’t right about her obsessive attention to details, but someone needed to force us to walk away from the proverbial “Kool-Aid.”

Finally, when Martha was incarcerated, only then was I was able to see, if only for a split second, see she was “just a person” running a business. Let’s hear it for white-collar crimes!

No longer was she the-arts-and-crafts-cooking-and-decorating-deity I had let her become in my brainwashed mind. So, I tossed the magazines, sold the books at a garage sale, and swore never to covet another person.

I’ve pretty much kept to my promise. However, after a few decades, I’ve discovered an escape clause — it’s called Words With Friends.

This app on my phone has exactly what addicts crave. Competition for perfection. Writing this makes it clear this is not healthy, but I could have much worse addictions like drinking too much Diet Coke. Wait, I resemble that remark.

Words with Friends — or as my family calls it, “Your Words” — is a Calgon moment every time. So satisfying! Oh, Words take me away! Let the mundane world of laundry, cooking and cleaning be swept away by a puff of syllables and consonants.

When asking professionals (not editors, but various medical doctors) about this type of escape, I’ve found the advice to be the same. There is nothing wrong with playing a game for a little bit each day, but the two hours of electronics limit for the kids should be for us adults, too.

I’m sorry to give you that bad news, but better to hear it from me than a psych nurse looming over your unmoving body while strapped to a gurney with five-point restraints.

I’m not quite that dependent on the game yet. I have Candy Crush, Gin Rummy and there’s that family of mine who appreciates me spending time with them periodically. I love zoning out and focusing only on the game and the anonymity of the partners.

If you’re having an off round of games, no big deal. You don’t know the people. They can’t go down to the local five and dime and tell folks how dimwitted you are.

I enjoy the sights and sounds and flashing graphics that very well could be sending me subliminal thoughts to buy more candies or points. They are a comfort when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get my brain to slow down enough to sleep.

I don’t yet dream of my games, but when it gets to be that bad I’ll switch to something else. I haven’t done crafts in a long time. Feels like a trip to Hobby Lobby is in order.

Stacey Hatton can be reached at