Please. Accept my word of warning. This stuff is more addictive than potato chips, cigarettes, skittles, and Ben & Jerry's all rolled into one. We all think we can handle it. We're adults, in body if not in mind. Whatever doesn't kill me will make me stronger. Yes, we've been to EST, Tony Robbins' Firewalking Camp, and even sat through The Hours. We can handle it, we say. But, in the words of the sadly washed-up Anthony Michael Hall to the even more sadly washed-up Molly Ringwald, "The girl can't handle her smoke."

I speak, of course, of the Big Brother live 24/7 feeds. Why do we do this to ourselves each and every summer? Other sane, well-adjusted folks are going to the beach, spending time with family, vacationing, earning a living, and just attending to personal hygiene. Not us. We sit for hour after long hour in front of a computer monitor, ignoring our familial and basic human needs, all so we can watch the ever-waking (and sleeping, and sleeping) moments of living proof that the ornithologists are correct - - brilliant plumage, and not necessarily "bird sense", endures. But the root of our addiction lies with us, not with the hamsters. Quite frankly, we are sick.

We watch because we are giddy with the seeming power of omniscience over other human beings. We watch each of the hamsters go through the daily routine of living and are privy to, and relish, every single small detail. It is not too hard to see ourselves as benign gods viewing our creations. As gods are wont to do, we feel proud of some, and are angered by others. We refrain from exercising the deus ex machina (at least since the "no banner rule" came into effect), instead keeping ourselves content with catty bickering and one-upmanship with the other "gods" on our virtual Mount Olympus, Joker's PX Board.

We also watch because it feeds our need to feel superior. And, in most cases, we are superior. Vastly superior. The detritus that petition Arnold and the gang for a coveted "house key" really don't have anything much else going on in their lives other than a fervent and fanatical dream to be famous for - - well, being famous. Think of it: Who among us can just check out of life for three months to be on a TV show around the clock? These folks either have no social, professional or familial ties, or those ties are extremely weak. The hamsters, with rare exception, are flakes with a capital "F". Wearing the white lab coats of social science, we glory in their social retardation, we roll with laughter at their self-centeredness, and we pass judgment on their morality. That is jolly, addictive fun if I ever heard it!

Finally, we watch because we're hoping to see some nudity. But really, the high-falutin' social experiment, omniscience, superiority thing described above is why I watch.

Thus, think long and careful before ordering the feeds. Do you really want to give in to your sickness? Do you want to indulge your weakness? Do you want to spend the summer cultivating a pasty white tan? Do you want to alienate loved ones, hoped-for loved ones and those who sign your paychecks? Do you really want to be obsessed enough to stay up until 3:00 a.m. to determine if Lisa's spider bite is getting better? Yeah, me too.