Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Lives of Others

I've been thinking about the ways my quitting the internet for a year would affect other people. Here's a rough list.

1) My adviser and thesis committee would have to agree to read printouts of drafts and send back the drafts marked up, rather than email comments.

2) Any coordination or touching base about the dissertation or studies, like when the next chapter is coming, career plans, rec letters, advice, whether or not I succeeded in finding a certain source, etc, would have to happen... on the phone, probably?

3) My family and friends would not be able to communicate with me conveniently about their lives. If someone wanted to tell me about her boy troubles or send me a picture of his new baby, it would all have to be on the phone or snail mail.

4) My friends would not be able to invite me easily to do stuff. A lot of fun random stuff emerges through email. I'd be out of that loop, which means that if they actually wanted to include me (as opposed to just remembering to group me with people because I was in their address book) they'd have to make the extra effort to call.

5) My family -- especially my dad -- would be deprived of the pleasure of sending me forwards. Not that I read them, but at this point we can both pretend.

6) If any editors actually agree to work with me despite this impediment, they'd have to: call to give me story assignments or listen my pitches; print out edited versions of the stories and let me pick them up or transfer them on a zip drive; be willing to input small changes over the phone; and be willing to accept all stories and edited versions on a portable storage device.

7) Various people who reach out to me for help -- let's say a young alum from my college who has a question, or someone who wants me to connect her with someone I know -- all that would have to be on the phone. (Or snail mail, but less probable.)

8) All the online accounts I have would have to be switched to paper, which means companies would pay more to contact me.

9) My mom, who usually emails me during the day time so she doesn't use up my cell phone minutes, would have to stop emailing me. But she would not feel comfortable calling, even if I tell her I have enough minutes, since she'd think I'm just saying I do so she'll call.

10) People who need or want to involve me in various semi-complicated coordinations -- say a small group going to the mountains for a long weekend, or being part of someone's wedding, or giving someone ideas about her new nonprofit, would all have to happen on the phone or snail mail.

11) Peripheral but still important professional contacts would have to get in touch on the phone, I guess. Which would meet less quick and easy interactions, which would mean less sources and story ideas.

12) Sources who I'm trying to meet for articles would have to agree to only communicate via email. Anyone trying to give me a press release, etc, would have to fax it.

13) People who are in San Diego would have it easier. People who live far away would have a harder time reaching me.

That's it for now. More later, I'm sure. I am heading to dinner. One thing the internet can't do for me. Thank God!

[image via oregon live]

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