Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Lives of Others (Part 2)

Here are 12 more ways my quitting the internet for a year would affect other people:

For items 1 to 13, click here.

14) If people still actually wanted to interact with someone who went offline, they'd have to be willing to wait a lot longer for conversations to evolve. No more instant answers, no more quick email pinging back and forth. They'd have to be patient for us to set up a coffee chat, or find a time to talk on the phone, or exchange paper letters.

15) Amazon's quarterly earnings and San Diego's GUP (gross urban product??) would dwindle by a factor of 8 once I stop buying stuff there and on Craigslist. Needless to say, many dreams would be shattered.

16) Other establishments would reap financial benefits, as I wouldn't be entitled to internet rates, 24-hour airfare sales, online discounts, coupon codes, freebies and the like. Mostly just airline companies, but a few others, too.

17) People sending me e-cards would have to do so on paper if they still wanted to wish me a happy new year. On the flipside, I might be one less obligation to fulfill -- people could say, "She's offline, loser, forget about her," and write me off. And the feel extra guilty when they received my touching handwritten notes.

18) People on Facebook and Twitter the world over would surely miss my pithy and insightful status updates.

19) As they would my modesty.

20) And my hackneyed jokes.

21) On the other hand, a vast network of acquaintances I keep in touch with virtually -- relationships where there's really not that much meat there, but they're kept alive by the convenient combo of inertia + internet -- would have the perfect opportunity to cut the cord. (As would I.) Other relationships, fed by phone calls, thoughtful letters and more live visits, would be strengthened.

22) New people I meet and want to keep in touch with would have to agree to call or write a letter (or receive a phone call or letter) to establish initial contact. That would be strange, frankly. Perhaps it would attract wierdos, or members of the Silent Generation, or just fantastically open minded people.

23) A cherished and trustworthy person would probably need to end up agreeing to be my email sorter. Check in once per week or so, eventually once per month, just in case something critical comes in. And perhaps even answer, on my behalf, the really important messages. That would require a loss of time and energy for him. (An alternative just occurred to me: I'd get a virtual assistant. We could communicate via telephone. But is that even possible?)

24) That same person, and in fact many other people around me, would have to tolerate my incessant buzzing about what just happened online, what the latest news is, any new blog comments, what I missed, resulting in a sacrifice of other conversation subjects. Not to mention peace of mind.

25) Anyone getting my letters or picking up the phone when I call would have to be prepared to withstand sentences like "I can't take this anymore!! Please let me connect!! No, that whole vow thing was a joke! Wait, stop me before I do something I'll regret. Actually, give me just 10 minutes online. No, don't listen to her!" or, more to the point, "I can has a internet access. Puhleeez!! Meow!" Consequently they may have to decide whether or not psychiatric evaluation is called for, and/or restraints. A responsibility they may or may not want to assume.

Thus: to quit the internet would be ridiculously selfish.

Next question: is there any way to work around that, mitigate the burden on others? And, back to Question Number One, is quitting even worth that effort???

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