Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Forget it

I've been trying to work out some of the details in my head.

Like, ground rules. Could I read print outs of web sites? Could I download sites and view them offline? Could someone read me my email? All messages? Only the message subjects and senders? Buy a machine to read them out loud? And carry it with me everywhere in a specially designed pouched commissioned on Etsy?

Is this more about breaking with technology or breaking with a way of life? If I actually do this, would it be despicable if I did it half way? I mean, give up the internet but tune in, in other ways?

And practical matters, like: I'm a reporter. How will I source articles and schedule interviews without the internet? I got my first newspaper job in 1997, when we still used phone books. But today it would be so strange to pick up the phone and look for sources that way. Much more inefficient. Not to mention odd. "Hello, Mr. Brin. I'm calling to confirm our interview, tomorrow at 10. Did I get your email? I'm sorry but I'm actually not checking. I've given that up. Yes, I know you revolutionized the way people interact in cyberspace. I do love technology! What? Are you sure? Please reconsider! Ok, I'll let my editor know. Thanks anyway for your time."

There's my dissertation. I live in California, my committee is New England. We've been sending chapters and comments back and forth. What, would I now have to print out my writing and mail it? Also, how would I find journal articles and library books? The internet has probably cut in half the time it took me to write this dissertation.

Then are the things that I'll really need it for. I don't just mean checking out the latest handbags at Barney's I can't afford, but also stuff like looking at exotic destinations I can't afford to travel to and reading about homes I can't afford to live in. Crucial things.

And how much will this cost me? Naturally, I'd need subscriptions to: the NYT, the LAT, the WSJ, the Union-Tribune, and about 20 magazines. Plus the extra ink, pens, paper, postage. And the cell phone bill.

Will I really be unemployed and spend my savings on magazines? That is not the life I envisioned after 8 years in grad school. Maybe teaching. Definitely writing. Maybe starring in a reality TV show about internet addiction. But not this.

So what would I do if I weren't online so much? For one, I'd probably have to start yoga classes or see a therapist, because I know I would be jittery. I would probably spend a lot more time writing, and then blogging about that, then comparing myself to a famous Luddite who lived 60 years ago in France and did a much better job at it. I would play more tennis, see my grandmother a lot more often and not check my email in front of her every half an hour, talk on the phone with friends more, volunteer to teach web literacy -- I mean, card catalogue skills -- in a local library. According to the statistics, I would probably have more sex. Not a bad tradeoff. No NYT.com in exchange for mind numbing nookie. Only for that to be true, does that mean both partners have to quit the internet? Or would I be having sex with myself? Also not what I had in mind...

Thoughts churning. Way too many obstacles for this to make sense.


Yes, I'm still thinking about it.

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