Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Commu Ni Ca Do

Geeeze it's hard to get along without a computer when you've had one for a while. I remember not 10 years ago Mike and I were working in the garden and a friend stopped by to tell one of those stories about a happy couple rent asunder by one hooking up with a new love in a chat room online, abandoning hearth, home and children to move around the world. Those awful stories were oft repeated in the early days of the internet, and we all shuddered with horror, Mike and I affirming that we would never ever get a computer, never.

We had a great life together ~ active, great friends, loving families, madly in love with each other, working in recovery, to grow spiritually, fiendish gardeners. Why on earth would we want to mess it up? We would not. We did not and we haven't.

Nevertheless, a computer came to live in our home as the result of my developing an online business after Mike became ill. His medical expenses, even with insurance, were astronomical and he could no longer work. My first efforts to sell antiques were accomplished with a borrowed computer and a camera. I hauled portions of my own collections to the child abuse network where I worked, snapping photos on the exam tables with the camera normally used to document the injuries of children. I operated that way for about three months until it seemed there really was a possibility of growing a business online and I was duly convinced to fork over the cash for a fine little $300 e-machines and a $200 camera to go with it.

For a year after we moved into our warehouse, I continued to do everything on the computer at home. For a couple of Luddite/technophobes, the concept of two computers was unfathomable, but we ultimately acquired another and so it goes.

We are people who just hooked up a DVD player six months ago with the help of one of the kids who works for us. There's no call waiting on the home phone, none of that extra stuff that becomes an annoyance and just another expense. I just cancelled my cell phone contract because I don't want to be that in touch, despite the occasional convenience of having a phone in my pocket. I had accumulated 6000 rollover minutes and was losing them at the rate of 500 a month because I only used the wretched thing once every 3-4 months. Crazy, yes?

So all of that is simply to say that I have been unable to get online at home and it feels as if I've lost an arm. I haven't been able to check email, write here, read others, deal with my business from the house. It feels bizarre. I feel out of touch and that makes me wonder about being so dependent on a piece of machinery. What would I be doing if I were not online? If I did not write here would I actually go out to an OA meeting?

I am not certain and I'm not certain how I feel about all of this. On one hand, an internet connection is a stunning convenience and this from the woman who said she could never imagine not wanting to go to the library for research. I still go the library ~ 2-3 times a week ~ but it's to pick up the books I've ordered through the library's website. All of my research is done at home. I find books I want to read all over the internet, then just let the library know. So incredibly simple. I found a silly thing called "The Family Dog" we'd been looking for for years. I was able to find a recipe I'd lost 10 years ago in an instant. There's a way to connect with family members who'd normally be out of touch. My nephew just got a job in the US Patent Office and never had a face to face interview. My husband's obscure collections have burgeoned in number and quality thanks to our ability to trade with collectors around the world.

These things amaze me and I also find them troubling. I am afraid that what television started ~ an increasing isolation within the home and a separation from community with others ~ the internet may finish. Will we become a people who can only communicate at a remove, through a piece of equipment? Will I care as much about the neighbors I never see, the people in my community who suffer, if I never interact with them?

All of this occurs to me on this Saturday afternoon in my warehouse. I have been at loose ends at home, not quite knowing what to do with myself, not being able to look up the schedule for the old movies Mike and I love, knowing I should be tending a bit to business and being trapped by the fact of not having a computer at the house, when I've been "connected" for years now.

Feeling at odds with myself is unpleasant and I've wanted to eat for entertainment. I don't understand it, because 98% of the time when I have the option of being online at home, I am not. I'm in the garden, talking with my sweetheart, reading and drinking coffee. I am disconnected, incommunicado, out of touch, offline.

Were it not for my business, I think I'd have to leave it this way. I feel as if I've lost something, some self sufficiency that I had prior to the 'net. I don't like it. I don't like dependency on things. I don't like wanting to eat in the face of an open day, full of possibilities.

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Blogger Miss Michele said...

Ahh, Babs,,,,let me be the first to comment on your wonderful post. I am a tragedy befallen by the internet and all its glory. For the past 2 months, I have "hooked" back into the internet chat world through a television show that I love and my life is completely absorbed in this 2D world.

It is only today that I have come up for air, gone outside and let the warm sun shine on my face. I am so glad to be back into 3D. I won't stop chatting for the next 3 weeks until the show is over...but I can tell you that once something causes enough pain and i'm up against the wall -- I finally am willing to make a change. And thats how the cookie crumbles!


August 26, 2006 5:41 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I know what you mean about not wanting or needing something very much until you don't have it. I feel the same way about my cell phone that you feel about the home pc. I use less minutes than I pay for, but I get panic-stricken if I leave it at home or forget it at work.

Wonderfully put as usual, Lynette. I hope you get this all resolved :)

August 27, 2006 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Big Fella said...

Oh crap! I input a cogent argument for you not to give up on technology, and the technology failed me and lost my comment.

August 28, 2006 4:31 PM  

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