I'll admit, I was sort of late jumping on the whole internet bandwagon.
I had heard about this world wide web thing, and was sort of "meh." After all, I worked in a vintage store and didn't have a stick of new furniture in my apartment, except for an answering machine and microwave oven my dad got me -- the rest of my junk was thrifted or hand me downs, including the TV that needed bunny ears after the free cable got turned off. I was already bad at writing letters, so what would I do with this thing called "email"? And the dot-commers were simply ruining San Francisco. My friends who worked at them had office dogs and basketball courts in their meeting rooms and it all sounded a little fishy to me. I figured it was all just techno thing that I wouldn't be interested in, like Nintendo or something.
And then I heard about eBay. Hello, iMac!
So since the first week of 2000, I have been online. (In waited until the whole Y2K thing was over, because all those dot-commers told everyone it was the end of the world. And, well, there was a big sale.) I delighted in plugging in my Blueberry iMac, and getting my first email, and bidding on my first ebay auction. (And then the thrill was over when I lost my first ebay auction.) I played online solitaire and joined a few Yahoo groups. I "surfed the web." And, I admit, I Googled myself.
I was hooked.
I was a regular Gidget of the web.
So in the past nine years, there have been very few days that I have been internet-less, and I constantly wonder what I did with my time before all this happened. My apartment was messy so I wasn't always cleaning, I had bunny ears on the TV so I wasn't watching, and I read a lot of books, sure, but I still do. Maybe I was going out and seeing friends more often, but now I have facebook for that. So was my life better back then? Was just having the basics more fun, or is life better now?
Now if I'm away from my computer for a few hours, I get antsy. Not that I have anything terribly import to attend to, but it's become a routine and a habit. I need to check my emails (thought most of them are SPAM), and OMG, what is everyone's status on facebook? Granted, most people just write things like, "So-and-so is drinking COFFEE!" and "So-and-so is going to work out!" but it's nice to feel connected. (My status updates aren't much better, BTW. And they've gotten a lot cleaner since my sweet aunt joined facebook, and I don't want her to tell my mom, "Karen's hungover AGAIN!") Same with Twitter, though since word economy is not my strong suit, I have a problem with the 140 characters. Oh, and the blogs, the wonderful blogs...
But sometimes, as I do in my regular life, I feel like I'm stretched too thin with what's going on the web world, and get overwhelmed. I get behind in the wonderful world of Flickr, and God knows I wish I could update my blog every day, but I just wind up playing Lexulous. (I really, really love Lexulous.) Yet the thought of avoiding the internet makes me anxious. It's become a huge part of my life. It's kind of like soap -- you can live without it, but boy, I sure don't want to.
I knew this Accomplishment was going to be tough. So when my friend decided to get a group together for a weekend to go to Tahoe, I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to test myself.
Now, the book says that you have to shut off all technology -- no music, cameras, cell phones, TV, OR computer. Now, that's a little much, and impossible to go cold turkey. This is not the Sierras and Lake Tahoe of the Donner Party -- we were going to drive in a car to a cabin, not take a covered wagon to a homestead. (And, um, eat food from Safeway. Not Aunt Millie.) So giving up the music part was out, and so was the camera -- I had to take incriminating photos of the weekend hijinks. I wasn't too worried about the cell phone -- mine's usually dead and I never realize it, and I hate texting. (THAT'S what I did when I didn't have a computer -- I talked on the phone for hours. Now I rarely do.) TV -- well, I don't watch much TV anyway (except OMG, LOST, I love LOST). In fact, I should watch MORE TV because sometimes there's good stuff on there, and I'm missing out on all the American Idol conversations at work. But the computer part -- there was no way around it. There was no internet connection at the cabin, and I don't have an iPhone so that was that. No internet for a whole three day weekend.
I got my online time in before we left on our trip, where I got an email from a friend who thought I was mad at her because I seemed stressed the night before. I emailed back that I was worried about the storm coming (that I had found out about on the internet and TV -- had I not turned either on it would have been fine), but in retrospect I was probably weirding out that I was going to be away from the computer.
On the way up, I did get some phone calls from the other people in our caravan to see where everyone was and whether or not we needed chains and if Rena could start making the queso dip as soon as she got to the cabin. So see? Technology was necessary for our SAFETY and NUTRITION. But I left all the texting to my friend Irene, playing a joke on our friend in the car ahead of us that we had passed them and we were already at the cabin. That led to a few laughs. Wheee! Technology is too fun to give up!
The first night was fine, though I did have some pangs. I looked at the people with iPhones, and was jealous. Our friend brought his laptop with a little modem thingy, and I resisted the urge to ask him, "Can I just check my email?" So instead, I had the aforementioned queso dip, some cocktails, danced a little, and went in the hot tub and fell asleep right after. Withdrawl crisis averted.
I woke up fresh as a daisy (okay, not really, but I didn't feel like I got hit by a bus), and though it felt strange that I couldn't get up and check email, I loved waking up and reading my book on The Roosevelts. Plus our room was a "Greek Myth" theme and it was so bizarre I liked just hanging out in it. Then when others started making their way downstairs, we joined them and ate pancakes, and sat around and talked. And what did we talk about? FACEBOOK. So it was like being online, but, um, not. And then we ventured out in the snow. We lasted all of about 10 minutes, but it was something slightly adventurous. If I had my computer, I... I was going to say that I wouldn't have gone out in the snow, but I would have. Bah.
But I was feeling antsy, so I went to Safeway to get out of the house. While there, I did get a call on my cell with requests for more Velveeta for more queso and some tampons. So it was a good thing I had my cell phone, otherwise some people would have been very, very unhappy. (And I'm talking more about the Velveeta than the tampons.)
To get past the online withdrawls when I got back, and making sure I didn't cave and borrow anyone's iPhone or the laptop, I took a nap and then ate lots of junk food and drank a lot of delicious White Russians and then had Big Gay Dance Party with an ipod, dancing to Erasure and ABBA and Lily Allen, laughing hysterically. And instead of writing a "note" on facebook about 25 Things No One Knows or whatever, we ended the night with "I Never" and crawled -- literally -- to bed. Day Two was over, and I'd made it.
I woke up feeling like I got hit by a bus, and was in no mood for much of anything. It would have been great to hole up with my computer and aimlessly stumble around on the internet, but that wasn't an option, so I bucked up and talked to everyone and we laughed and laughed about the hijinks from the night before. And we ate more queso and pigs in blankets and then we actually played SCRABBLE. With tiles. We had to keep score, unlike with Lexulous, that does it all for you. But I discovered my Scrabble skills have not suffered in the slightest, and kicked butt.
When almost everyone else trooped off upstairs to watch horror movies, I decided to forgo that bit of technology, and instead went to the casinos with 3 others where we drank champagne and played nickel slots. (Now that's technology I wish never got updated -- I hate all the lines to bet on and the tickets that come out. I like the cherries and the one to 3 lines and the glorious sound of coins spilling out.) When we got home, we drank more champagne and played a rousing game of celebrity, and laughed and laughed and went to bed, all of us sad that it was the last night.
By then I didn't care about the internet -- we had to say goodbye to our amazing cabin and our friends, and get home. And I knew that 8000 emails would be waiting for me, and that it would be a pain to catch up. So by then, it was the opposite -- I was dreading signing on. But I didn't think about it much, as we laughed the whole way home about stuff that had happened over the weekend. By then I already missed the weekend more than I had missed the internet.
And when I got home, sure enough, my inbox was full of junk to weed through and correspond to. And without print and newspapers, I realized, I had no idea what went on in the world while I was away, and that was a little weird. I didn't know if it had rained the whole time, if the Stimulus package had been signed, if any celebrities died... I was totally disconnected. And after a few minutes of being online, I gave up and went to bed.
So here are some things I learned:
I can live without the internet, and I don't break into hives or seizures.
However, I don't get that much more stuff done, because I am inherently lazy -- if there's no internet, that just means a NAP.
It's okay if I don't check into facebook. Everyone is the same -- still drinking coffee, still working out, and still broke, hungry, stoked and or drunk. Life goes on, and so do status updates. But -- it sucks cleaning out your inbox after not logging in for a while, that's for sure.
And sometimes, getting back to basics and the simple pleasures in life are truly the most magical things.
Behold the greatest technological invention ever:
Facebook will NEVER be as funny as farts.
I SO need an iPhone.
Twenty-seven down, seventy to go.