I got my first computer in 1991 or ’92, a gift from a dear friend who wanted to help me stay in touch with my old buds after I moved to The Land That Time Forgot (as another old friend likes to call Anza). The Internet wasn’t really a thing yet; we communicated through Bulletin Board Systems via 2400-baud modems. It was great.
Until this summer, I hadn’t been without a computer and global connection for more than a few days in over 18 years. Sure, there was that time in ’06 when my modem died and and it almost two weeks before I could get back online with a shiny new wireless connection, but I was heavily into PBeM gaming at the time and every unconnected day was agony, so I spent a fair amount of time at the library or on other people’s PC’s.
Computers have been a fairly significant part of my adult life, is what I’m saying.
When my hard drive crashed ten weeks ago I was surprised by my own lack of panic. Granted, it’s been an unusually busy summer for me and I wasn’t getting online as much anyway, but it was still my primary source of recreation and socialization. Or so I thought.
Apparently that’s not the case anymore.
Somewhere along the way, without me quite noticing, Luke and Elizabeth have become my primary source of recreation and socialization. This was not only revealed but also enhanced by the absence of an Internet connection. As a family we became more interactive, more creative, more conversational, more attuned to one another and to our own lives. Luke, who had never been much of a recreational reader, inhaled a huge pile of books over the past couple of months. Elizabeth took up sculpting with Model Magic and delighted herself and the rest of us with the results. We conversed and shared and laughed together more than we’d ever done before. Without the everpresent siren call of the Glowing Rectangle, life was just…nicer. I was tempted to not get my Mac fixed at all.
So why did I? Well, it turns out that life can also be freaking inconvenient without an Internet connection. I don’t have tv reception or a newspaper subscription, so my Mac handles a multitude of everyday tasks for me. I couldn’t check the weather forecast, make hotel reservations, update my Netflix queue, update my iPod, look up recipes, get driving directions, check my bank balance, check the news, find answers to the neverending stream of questions that my children ask…you get the idea. I had to actually drive 40 miles to the Temecula Library to check out actual books on subjects Luke or Elizabeth wanted to learn about, instead of just consulting the Googles in the comfort of my own home. For me, my Mac is a tool that I have become unwilling to do without.
I learned something during the past ten weeks, though. My computer adds some good important stuff to our lives, but if we’re not careful it also takes some even more important stuff away from us. I want to spend less time online and more time just being with my family. I want my kids to spend less time online and more time tapping into their own creativity. That’s a priority for me now; I plan to work toward making it happen every day.
Ironically, just when I’ve resolved to spend less time blogging and such, I have a ton of fun stuff to blog about from my time offline. The kids are back in school now though, and I’ve almost finished all my projects, so I should eventually be able to get it all posted.
I gotta admit, it’s good to be back. The Internet is a lovely place to visit…I just don’t want to live there.