The world won’t end if I don’t check my email. I am a slave to the internet. Not a day goes by that I don’t check my mail obsessively or log on to my Twitter account for my daily @replies. I subscribe to 100+ book, author, fashion, food, publishing, history, and humor blogs on my Google Reader. I have a Polyvore account, a Tumblr blog, 2 WordPress blogs in addition to The Lit Connection, and somewhere floating around cyberspace is a Xanga chronicling the time I suspected someone spat in my taco or my recurring nightmares about Biochem. Lab!  Add a neglected Facebook account and a newly created GoodReads and I can officially conclude that I don’t have a life. Not a real life. My virtual life, however, rocks. I count not having a MySpace or a YouTube account as my one saving grace.

Seriously, folks. I need to shut down my computer and go outside and maybe feel the sunshine on my pale, ghoulish skin. I might sparkle. Likewise, I might sizzle and explode. But I would never know if I continue living this half-life existence!

I’m part of a generation who remembers what it’s like growing up without the internet. When I was in 5th grade, we took class trips to the computer lab to play the DOS version ‘Oregon Trail’ and ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ Our teacher played round after round of Solitaire via Windows 3.1 while we all looked on in high-tech envy! In middle school, most of us hand wrote our book reports, which was standard, while one classmate turned her report in TYPED and that was like “Whoa. We’ve got an over-achiever here!” Around the summer of the O.J. Simpson trials (which I’m still bitter about because it pre-empted the Fox Kids line up), I turned to Ghostwriter on PBS. My favorite Ghostwriter episode was called “Who is Max Mouse?” The gang signed into a CHATROOM by hooking up their IBM computers to an external modem and dialing up a phone number. This episode more or less BLEW MY MIND. I didn’t know you could TALK TO PEOPLE ONLINE! So the Ghostwriter Gang did some intensive brainstorming and came up with LJBad (L for Lenny, J for Jamal, Bad for the Team…which is Bad Ass)  as their “handle.” I, in turn, came up with my own “handle” for when I’ll convince my parents to buy one of those new Windows 95 computers with an external modem.

I didn’t get a computer until 8th grade. It had Windows 95 at a time when Win95 was phased out by Win98. I was so happy to be among the computer-owning elite that I played Solitare and surfed my Encata Encyclopedia on CD-ROM and tinkered with my flying Windows screen savers that I didn’t have time to be jealous of my friends who were already dialing up AOL or Compuserve.

Senior year of high school: it’s finally happened. I have a new Hewlett Packard, Windows ME, and AOL dial-up!  I could talk to my friends ONLINE and say cool stuff at school like “Oh, just AIM me” or “I’ll EMAIL you my notes.”

I’ll save you the story about how I went off to college with my blue Ethernet cable (I didn’t know why we needed an Ethernet cable; the dorm welcome packet advised us to buy one) and discovered DSL.

I worked so hard to get connected. Now I can’t go a day without wasting at least an hour online. When my server’s down, my personal apocalypse cometh. Is it really the end of the world when you can’t check your email or reply to someone on Twitter? Can I survive the weekend without surfing the web? Or Eek! Checking my email?


9 thoughts on “Wired”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Last week we went on vacation, and I spent an ENTIRE week without internet. I faced the trip with more than a little trepidation, but it turns out I was able to survive.

    But was I really away from the influence of the internet? Before I left, I scheduled enough posts to go up on my blog that it was like I hadn’t gone anywhere. When I took pictures during the trip, I thought about what peoples’ comments would be when I posted them Facebook. When something crazy happened, I thought it a shame I couldn’t tweet about it.

    How did this happen??

    Oh, the carefree days of Oregon Trail in the computer lab.

  2. You’ve described me. I remember Oregon Trail and thinking Solitaire was freakin’ amazing. I couldn’t wait to get to the computer lab to tinker with this awesomeness of the future and once I got a Windows 95 bearing machine (when Win98 was out already, too) my mind was blown. We had slow as hell dial-up internet that always kicked me offline, but I loved it. I’ve been a computer nerd since I was 14 and I’ve never looked back.

    I must check my e-mail everyday (multiple times). I troll YouTube like a crazy person and Google everything and anything. It’s like a compulsion.

    I remember life without the Internet. I remember sunshine and fresh air. But sometimes I wonder how on earth I functioned without the ability to look things up at a moment’s notice? I’m sure I’ll be pondering this question for the rest of my life.

    Already foreseeing the day when I have children and regale them with stories of, “when I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet and had to go to the library to look things up or ask someone…” I imagine their silent stunned faces. Yeah, I feel old already.

  3. Reading your blogs is like reading my own thoughts sometimes.

    OMG, this is priceless. I also remember a time before internet. I loved Oregon trail. You say Carmen Sandiego and I crack up. Let alone Ghostwriter! I loved that show, I never missed it. (Big crush on Alex, Gaby’s brother).

    The only difference is my dad had ‘Prodigy’. It was almost like an world wide web, except it wasn’t. People could make pages, there were games galore, but there were no web addresses. It was the beginning, there were prodigy chats, which led to my later obsession with AOL chats… then AIM, now Facebook. My oldest friends remember coming to my house to play on Prodigy. Trust me, 1990, prodigy is what started it all for me!

    I’m also addicted to the internet, major meltdown if my connection is off. BTW, what is Goodreads? (going to google!)

  4. Raych: I choose to navigate that river!

    alitareads: Sometimes I go out and attempt to experience life solely to blog about it! I even take pictures of what I eat every day so that I could document my life online. Sad, huh?

    Brenda: I already tell the 18 year olds “You youngsters have it so easy. Back in my day, we had to use the ACTUAL encyclopedia, not none of this Wikipedia mumbo jumbo.” I’m one crotchety remark away from shooing kids off my lawn.

    Wendy: I was SO in love with Alex. I used to wish I could replace Tina on the show. Remember the episode when they had their first kiss in the dumpster? Swoon!

  5. You stole my history! No seriously, I went through all the same things, and I’m pretty sure I saw that ep of Ghostwriter.

    I’ve been unplugged at home for the last three months except for the hub’s computer upstairs (which I hate…Mac), and my iPod touch. It’s been nice. I get my fix at work and have a life on the weekend.

    Now my laptop is back, so we’ll see if I can maintain balance.

    Am reading a new book called Hamlet’s Blackberry about finding balance in the digital world. Will report when I’ve finished.

  6. Oh this post bought up so many memories of growing up in the generation that was seeing the computer evolve from its early beginings. I too remember playing Where in the Wold is Carmen Sandigo?. We also had this crazy turtle robot (that was lent to our school because it had to tour all the schools as the technology was so advanced it had to be shared aorund the area) which could be controlled by typed commands. I remember when we first got CAD software in secondary school and could decorate our own houses on screen – move over SIMs.

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