Friday, November 19, 2010

The Net

Believe it or not, I think daily of subjects to blog about. I forget most of them by the end of the day (which is why my blog lies dormant for months at a time). At least half of them are unimportant concepts that only I would find interesting.

Tonight, as Dan watches our latest Netflix arrival (a typical tale of mobsters, guns and knives), I entertain myself with the computer (because I finished reading my library book and I don’t feel like sweeping the kitchen floor or organizing a closet).

I know my parents and the generations before me feel this even more strongly than I do – but I frequently realize how attached we are to anything electronic. Every morning at the office, I turn on each computer, charge my cell phone, log onto the internet for the day’s use, sign into my e-mail account and work out of it throughout the day.

Fifteen years ago, we had nothing but a TV and VCR – how did we go about life? What did we do? How did we pass our time or accomplish any tasks without internet, e-mail, cell phones or any other gadgets?

My family first got “the internet” when I started college in 1998. We only got it because one of my professors at school assigned course work that students were supposed to do “online.” (He was a groundbreaking one in that regard.) I remember asking my dad, “Do you think we could get the internet here at home? I need it for a class.” We did already have dial-up-save-it-to-your-hard-drive-for-free Juno e-mail.

Free dial-up Juno e-mail, by the way, was great. Two or three messages could download in just under three minutes. It was thrilling to watch that little status bar climb to 100% as your mail came in. (Even advertisements and spam were exciting). A few years earlier, I remember trying to wrap my head around the concept of e-mail when a friend spoke about “talking to someone” via electronic mail on the computer. Ten years before that, it amazed me to watch how our local librarian's computer could "talk" to the library across town and see if the St. Matthews branch had my book.

I find myself trying to remember what we did with our time back then, and wondering how we accomplished all our day-to-day activities that now seem to require net browsing or phone apps. There was no texting. No Netflix. No e-mail. No forwards. People called each other on the phone (landline, of course), talked to each other, read books, studied things, played games.

Today, most people will consider you odd if you don’t have an e-mail address. If you don’t have one, you are either:

a. Lying.

b. Too young or too old to figure out how to use the computer.

c. Amish.

d. Living in a foreign country where it is impossible to find a computer.

Occasionally (and only for very small fractions of time) I want to rebel against the unveiling of brand new amazing devices every week -- the newest iPhone, the newest blackberry capability, GPS for all your friends, the app for anything you’ve ever imagined, and so many others that I haven’t even heard of because I don’t follow electronics news. All handy tools. I keep telling myself that I don’t want to be so connected to the rest of the world. Mostly because I know if I had a phone that made it easy to text or check mail, I’d be doing it all the time. The way I see it, I’m already losing more than a few hours each week, suctioned away by typing and browsing the web.

I wonder what I could become if I had each one of those hours back. I would get a lot more piano practice that way. Wonder what I could have done this evening if I hadn’t been sitting here writing about my time getting sucked away. It is a net, after all.

1 comment:

  1. I've thought about going on a "fast" from the computer before (except at work of course). But I just feel like I could not survive without I would lose all touch with everything because I get most of my news from everyone and about everything in the world online! Maybe one of these days...