Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Accepting the things I cannot change (or: Just Say e-Yes)

As of yesterday, we have the internet back in our house. We've been without it for four months, an experiment in saving money and detoxing from too much online time since Facebook, Goodreads, blogging, emailing etc. are addictive as crack.

So the question is: Will I be able to moderate? Will I be able to continue to prioritize my writing and reading time, rather than sucking up hours online? Will I be able to stop, for god's sake, before my wrists once again swell up like Pop N. Fresh?

Not having the internet at home has had its advantages and disadvantages. No monthly internet bill has been nice. There have been many ways I've accessed the internet for free during these months, such as in my office at work, at a cafe (which can be a pleasant experience that I don't think I'll be giving up completely), and at the library (but too often I'd have to hold my breath when a kindly but odoriferous person who lives out of a backpack would sit next to me).

I also used my friends' and relatives' computers. This was a money-saving advantage but a social disadvantage because, like any good addict, instead of visiting and conversing, I'd be distracted by surfing the web (or thinking about when I'd be able to sneak off into their home office to surf the web). This tended to wilt what used to be lively social intercourse.

It was a pain in the ass (and probably not very secure) to pay my online bills on a laptop in a cafe. And it was awkward to hide from the other caffeinated patrons how many credit card bills sat in my stack. Evidence of over-extending yourself is less humiliating in the privacy of your home.

When you don't have the internet at home, you can't take advantage of the "Watch Now" feature of Netflix--so you get less bang for your buck. I doubt paying a monthly internet bill equalizes that cost-savings, but I can fool myself about it while I gorge on movie after movie, with buttered popcorn of course.

Not being able to Google whenever we wanted to was tough, as well. If we were having an argument about what year The Mary Tyler Moore Show was cancelled, or how many zeroes there are in a trillion, we'd actually have to call someone and ask them to Google it. In other words, we treated everyone we knew as a Phone-a-Friend Lifeline.

The deal-breaker, however, had to be Mapquest. Because I have an abysmal sense of direction, lack of easy access to Mapquest has been like Mary without Rhoda. I've been imbalanced and anachronistic, driving while simultaneously trying to decipher an actual map. Remember those? Those things that unfold like one of those tiny toy sponges that, when put in water, expands into the Taj Mahal? And when I hit 46 recently, my eyesight shot to hell on my birthday. One day I was 45 and could read the teensy list of multisyllabic, poisonous ingredients on a package of gum, and the next day at age 46 I couldn't read my birthday cards without the help of Dr. Dean Edell. Try reading maps when that happens.

So here we are, plugged back in. If I send you back an email within two seconds every time you email me, please gently remind me that I am powerless over my addiction and need to go outside for a walk with my dog.
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