Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Me vs. the Internet

A few months ago, Bryton from Microsuede quipped, 'I'm always amazed by how swell life is when I shut down and put away my computer.' Reading that likely made most of you whimsically think, 'Ah, yes....life without the Internet,' then you moved on to another site and then another and another until it is time for you to go to bed.

Right now, I have two Internet windows open and am listening to iTunes. All day at work (did I mention that I have a new job? well I do), I sit in front of a computer using a program that is Internet-based and tens of times each day, I open up other windows and check my emails and blogs and boards. On the Gentle Tyrants podcast this week, Rob talked about hating his job and using his impending honeymoon as the reward-slash-break in the action to motivate him. I don't hate my job, but I use the Dubdubdub as my between work motive: complete this much and I can get back to the Web. Good for me for being a goal setter.

But what the heck? Over the last seven years, I think the Internet could be classified as an addiction of mine. I can't get enough. Free time becomes Internet time and Internet time spills into sleep time. When I use the computers up at school, study time became Internet time. Et cetera.

My first taste of this Web was back in the early 90s. My cousin had this thing called Prodigy (I think). Right now, I am resisting eliminating the preceding two lines and replacing them with, 'A thing called Prodigy was the fire starter'. To this day, all that I know about Prodigy was that it gave sports scores that I usually had to wait until the next evening for. Which, right there is a mind melter. Waiting until the evening for news? I know it happened, but I have a hard time believing it. Can you fathom living and not knowing exactly what is happening in the world until the evening after it happened (or the morning if your family subscribed to The Salt Lake Tribune)?

Hold up. This is supposed to be an anti-Internet piece....
I'll get back to it.

Sometime in the 90s, the Internet happened. It was so subtle that I can't pinpoint it. I remember sitting in my friend Doug's basement late one night and hopping on to a chat board and telling strangers that George Brett was a better third baseman than Wade Boggs or somebody. It was incredible. I had found people to discuss sports with whenever I wanted to. The next night, I told my dad about how great it was while he was barbequeing hamburgers. I told him about talking sports and his interest was lukewarm. I wanted it bad, though, so I said something that I should have known better than to say because asking was the kiss of death for me when it came to my pop during those years: 'So, I think we need Internet.' He shot it down and backed up his shots with possibly good points (bias makes the validity of his points questionable, but I will bury the hatchet and give him the benefit of the doubt). I'm not sure, but I bet that that was when I knew I was never going to makeout with a pretty girl because I never got what I needed in a reallyreally want sort of way (then again). It hurt to know that there were sports conversations happening while I was still playing regular Nintendo and watching network television.

Though my family still hasn't put cable in their television set, once I took matters into my own hands and bought a Playstation and my own TV to play it on, they upgraded their video game system, attaining the level of the original XBOX. And we got Internet. While I thought it would never happen that one night my dad told me why we didn't need it, it happened within a year or so. Unfortunately, it turned out that good sports discussions were hard to find, but there were more sites devoted to ska bands than my appetite even called for. I could hear a band on a comp(ilation), then read about them on the Web. Most times, they had already broken up because band on compilations usually don't last long. But still, I had the 411.

My Internet use didn't really go beyond ska bands, except on the rare occasion that I researched 80s TV shows or movies, until my friend James went on his mission. I obtained his email address and set one of my own up. I wish I knew what my original email address was, but I don't. In fact, I can't even tell you who my email service was through. But email was great, even if James was the only person that I emailed and most of our conversation were about the Spice Girls.

I don't know where I am going with this. Is it a boring history of the Internet or a discussion of the downfall of humanity? I think I already proved my point of the Internet quickly changing everyone's life in a span of about five years. Maybe it is time to make another point.

Okay, so anyway, I went on my mission. My old man said that somebody had set up a website for our mission, so on one of my first few days back home, I set up an email account and joined the Canada Edmonton webpage. The Internet had changed over the course of two years. The only thing the same was Yahoo!.

My post-mission boredom inspired me to find message boards devoted to college football. Finally, I found the sports discussions that I wanted. This was a horrible move, though. Message boards became a bigger part of my existence that I really want to admit. First, there were sports message boards. Then more general message boards. If not for message boards, I bet I would be done with school by now and I bet I would have done pretty well. Something about message boards grabbed me, though. I always liked discussing stuff with people, and they let me.

Message boards begat social networking sites which begat Youtubes and so on until I am sitting here with two windows open and listening to iTunes, a cluttered situation that is hard to clean up.

About a year ago, I started to realize what a slave I had become and decided to get all Harriet Tubman and free myself. For some reason, it has been extremely hard to not sit in front of a screen clicking links and hitting refresh, waiting for something to happen (and usually doesn't happen).

Here's the thing: I bet I am in the 50th-percentile of Internet addiction, and I don't think I am in denial when declare that. Really, you're probably worse.

Here's the other thing: the Internet can be pretty great. One can keep up with the news in an up-to-the-minute fashion, stay abreast of music, and learn weird stuff about famous murderers of the last century (as Lisa and I did last fall -- thank you wikipedia). One can also come into contact with good people like the aforementioned Bryton.

It's just that it all gets to be so much and too much. The Internet and cellular phones are everywhere all the time. In fact, I think the Internet has bred a new category of intelligence. You know, those kids who are always up to date on the latest youtube, the latest way to get free music and movies or the latest hilarious link. He is also probably the first person to Rick Roll you (and bless him for it). Such a kid is Internet Intelligent.

I digress. The Internet has become something that life revolves around and maybe we shouldn't let it so much. I mean, I still want you all there on gchat on the rare occasion that I am on and I will me ticked if you stop writing your blogs, but come on people, be people.

I guess what I am saying is remember sometimes what it was all like before the Internet.


marshall p said...

this is long.

Lee said...

I know how I do.

I mostly wanted to practice writing something long.

ram said...

this should find a permanent home between "This I Believe", "Engines of our Ingenuity", and "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

I'm feeling the man love for lee again.

Lee said...

Thanks, Rammer.

You too, Marsha.

Ems said...

so great lee (don't let marsha be such a hater).

my first e-mail involved an 'emdog' and a '1015' (to be read ten-fifteen...in honor of the pen15 club). so mature.

Brad K. said...

Lee I was way addicted to Internet. My deal was bicycles and photography. Real nerdy. Anyway, it got so bad that I couldn't even watch a movie without my laptop because I'd get bored just watching a movie. Well, luckily I got real busy working on my house for like 9 months and now I don't even look at a computer when I'm not a work and I feel like I've been freed from something holding me down.

marshall p said...

lee, I only say this out of love. Ems, hating is what I do best. don't hate the hater, hate the game. also, I recently joined the pen15 club. it was great.


Lee said...

Em15- I like how your email address was more immature than mine. I think I just did my name or something. I'm glad you finally grew up.

Brad- Great job!
I agree, though, I sometimes sit in front of a television but neglect it because I am to busy Internetting. I always thought TV would be my best friend. A few months ago, I did a media cleanse (or whatever I called it) where I didn't watch TV, Internet, watch TV or read secular things for a week. It was a good start to my healing.
I bet your house came out of it looking pretty cool.

Marsha- You know how I do and I know how you do.

Em15- That's just how Marsha do.

Lee said...

I'm really battling against mass media this year.

Lee said...

I guess.

Anonymous said...

I am married to someone who now and then still has to be reminded by his boss to check his work email while he is at work. I always about fall over dead each time I think about how this could even be possible. The forgetting to check work email at work part, not the being married to him part. He's so awesome I can overlook this glaring unfathomable idiosyncrasy.

k8 said...

this is a good post. i too have serious internet addictions. but i kicked one of them hard this summer so i feel good about that.

Lee said...

Thank you and congratulations on slicing your vices, k8.