This week in podclub; On Being-Alive Enough
Our first computer was incredibly slow but I couldn't wait to play with it. My dad spent weeks, poring over a huge catalog that seemed to me like it was in another language, deciding on the best one then carefully set it up. Somewhere in the torrent of questions I threw at him he looked at me sternly and informed me that it was NOT a toy. I nodded and promised I would treat it with the care and respect it deserved while I wondered if it had any games and tried to calculate how long (as the youngest) I'd have to wait before I got a turn. By the time it had arrived I had learned what I was suppose to do by watching everyone else doing things on it, so right away with a little help (via a lot of begging to my brother) I could do the basic things, like draw in the paint program or play the games and how to get online. I was pretty excited about it. A long cord stretched across the kitchen from the phone line cutting off anyone who wanted to come in, I sat there patiently waiting for the modem to dial, the noise not even bothering me because at the time it was part of the charm. Finally, there it was, the internet. I looked at the screen and the screen looked at me and at that very moment I realized I had no idea what I could possibly want to look at. I sat there a little disappointed, thinking maybe this new thing wasn't quite as fun as I imagined it should be. In the end I did a search on U2 because it was the last thing I'd seen my brother look at. I don't think I'd ever even heard any of their songs at that age, so at that point I was just hoping for something to save me from the fast approaching boredom. The search took ages. I think I finally clicked on one of the pages and then gave up before it had fully loaded. I closed it down and went back to playing that game where you try to keep the mouse from the cheese by moving blocks. If you had told me then that I'd be using this thing called the internet on a daily basis, I would have rolled my eyes and told you it was very unlikely and gone back to reading my book. After that it took me awhile to give the internet another chance. Probably not until high school when I had a reason to go looking for things. Of course once it got a little faster I joined the rest of the world in getting addicted to it. Now I don't think twice about having tons of information right at my fingertips anytime I might want it.
Then came the cellphone. I do not like phones. I never have. When people started carrying them around, I didn't really think it would last. I couldn't imagine wanting to be constantly available when every time I reached a message machine instead of a real person it was like a gift. Who would want to be tethered to a phone all day? And then the smart phones showed up, and while I had found the advantages to having a cellphone for emergencies and reaching parents who might have forgotten all about you, I could not believe anyone thought having one big enough to fit an entire keyboard on it was a good idea. To be fair those things were monsters and I still can't imagine carrying one around as a phone. If someone had shown me an iphone and then told me to go online and search for something I would have readily admitted I was wrong. I took me quite a while to get a smart phone. Up until then my cell phone was just a thing to make the occasional phone call (because texting wasn't in my plan) and it stayed in my bag all day with the ringer turned down. Smart phones changed all that (minus the horrible blackberry that I never used as a smart phone because it wasn't smart. It was slow and retarded. Just pointless to even try to use). Once I got one that worked something changed. The phone came out of my bag and sat next to me (ringer still down because I still don't really use it for phone calls unless I have too). I carry it from room to room looking at it every so often only to forget what I wanted to look at or just out of habit. I have mini panic attacks that I've left it somewhere and more than once this has happened while I'm talking to someone on it. Part of this is because its expensive and not easily replaced, but also because it has so much stuff on it. Music, notes, contacts, apps, so many things that I don't want to lose or try to redo on a new phone (because I'm too lazy to constantly back it up) The other thing that changed was that since everyone else was getting them or had them and they made communication faster and easier, it became even more essential to some people (including me sometimes I'll admit it) that everyone should be constantly available and answer their call, text or email. I'm not crazy about this. When I'm with someone and their attached to their phones in such a way that it interrupts the time that I'm actually spending with them it makes me feel less important and immediately I become less invested in that moment. I might even pick up my own phone to distract myself from the person that has far more important things to do than spend time with me. This doesn't mean I'm not guilty of doing it to other people. I know I do, but I really do try not to. What's funny is when their more worried about the call or text your missing than you are. When my phone rings and I ignore it, I've had my husband go pick it up and hand it to me because its stressing him out that I might miss something.
I guess it just depends on the person. I'm okay with the amount of time I spend with electronics and I feel like I could live without them and sometimes I do ignore things like texts and emails because I just don't feel like being plugged in and I'll deal with it later. This could have something to do with the very limited amount of time I was allowed to watch TV when I was little so I learned how to turn it off and go do something else. I do think if i wasn't looking at things on the internet it would just be swapped out with a book because before computers thats the thing I stayed up all night looking at and it might actually be worse because I have a harder time putting them down than I do my phone or computer.
I admit my phone has become something of a safety net for social situations I don't feel like dealing with. Don't know what to do with my eyes or want to draw attention or conversation? There's an app for that. When it's something I care about though I do want to put down the phone and enjoy it and sometimes just the habit of looking at it draws me in to the point where I'm doing two things at once for no reason, so its definitely still something I need to work on. Like they say in the podcast it is not a mature internet and we're all still learning how to incorporate it into our lives. I think in the end it will even out. This next generation especially because it won't be quite such a novelty to them. Just by growing up in a time with computers and the internet changes the way they think about things. I kind of feel like my generation was the one that got so excited that they got a little drunk and maybe crashed their parents car into a telephone pole or two before learning their lesson...