Happy Birthday Don, I'm sure you are like me and never thought that you would make it this far. Like one of my friends said "you gotta be tough to get old". I'm also glad that you proved to your self that you can do without the internet so you can again post more like the one above. Again happy birthday!
What is that old line? "If I had known I was going to live this long ... I would have taken better care of myself!"
And yes, I did take a break from the Internet. Maybe a month or so, I dunno. We are using the Internet wrong. Smart-phones turn people into horrible listeners. And cat videos aren't as riveting as we think they are. These are just some of the revelations I had during a brief period of self-imposed exile from the Internet earlier this year.
Life did change for me, after giving up the Internet for a brief period of time. After a nerve-wracking start (including finding 139 e-mails in my inbox), I frequently found myself settling comfortably back into the Web's black hole of information and nonstop chatter. That is what happens to addicted people.
So I just figured I would quit for awhile. I had no clue what going offline was going be like? I thought it would be a ton of real practical hilarious hijinks. Oh, I couldn't find this place on Google Maps, or I don't have Wikipedia, or I have to send a real letter. I really thought that's what the Internet was to me, mostly those little practical things.
What was the actual experience like? Existential and Introspective
. I really learned a lot about myself. I did have a lot of free time, but a lot of it was loneliness and boredom in ways that I hadn't really experienced before. But on the surface, most of that was just superficial, and not really that much of a departure from the norm for me.
Early on I discovered that being Internet impaired was kind of nice, that was a real inspiration. There were times I would realize my mind was in really cool places, having thought processes that are hard to have when you're on the Internet and the same news and information cycle as everybody else. I read some books I would have never read, and wrote some stuff I would have never written.
Strangely I counted myself a little bit out of the loop, in a good way, and I really enjoyed that. But it was really easy to sink in on myself and be withdrawn from people because it was just a little harder to get a hold of people, a little harder to make plans, and a little easier for me to just hide from the world and stay in my world of my own making devoid of electronics.
New things occurred and new goals for this time, discovering what I wanted to do. Read X number of books and write a first draft of my novel. This was my chance. I'm never going to have this much free time
in my entire life, and so it was really hard at almost the end of the year to say I didn't do all those things. Most of the time I just sat on the porch, with a cool glass of ice tea, and watched my hummingbirds who came to visit one of our many feeders.
At one point, I actually wanted to do some real serious reporting, as well, but it proved really hard to do journalism without the Internet. Not only was it really hard for me, but it was really hard on my readers because they had to pick up the slack. It was at best sporadic, and in April, I shut down the webpage for good, and walked away from it completely.
Then I had three heart attacks, open heart surgery, and a life changing event in my life, and then all of a sudden, the Internet, Text Messaging, Tweets, Bus Board banter, all of it, just seemed trivial and unimportant, almost seemingly overnight. Recently for example, I chose to stop reading bus boards and backed off of that completely. I now do searches on how Van is going to get by when Lake Mead does eventually go dry. Where butterflies sleep at night. Would Melbo come to the campground and drink a beer with me the next time I am in the Land Of Enchantment?
Believe it or not, in my personal life I became very content with not knowing things.
I was fine with missing out. There were a couple of things that were a little hard, like Felix Baumgartner's jump from space. I saw it on CNN but they cut away during the actual jump. During this brief respite I concentrated on learning new words for my vocabulary such as Twerking.
Very quickly I realized that I did not like the Internet or electronic’s shoved down my throat day after day. I did become pretty judgmental. I didn't envy them, but the most frustrating thing was people who couldn't quite get out of their phone, or get out of their laptop. And in their opinion they're listening, but I know they're not really because I've experienced what full-on, true interaction is, and it's different than someone glancing back and forth at their phone, or glancing back and forth at their e-mail.
So that for me, became really frustrating.
Often I really want to be the shining example of what it's like to actually pay attention to somebody and coach them politely to put away their devices. Seldom I am successful at either endeavor. Our kids, our grandchildren, even my own wife, are constantly sitting there with their face buried into some kind of gadget and it tends to drive me bonkers.
Fortunately, I have learned how to adapt and not allow it to consume me.
So, things have kind of changed for me. I have learned a few things along the way. I do now understand that surfing the Internet was not a fad. That is the primary way we use it, and it's rarely productive. I spent a couple of hours last night looking for a new e-mail recipient, looking for a way how to balance my checkbook, looking for a program to teach me proper tire pressures on a thirty-year old bus, where to find the cheapest diesel, how to google Texas Border Dude and locate his present position in America. Instead of working on my e-mail, learning how to program or learning incredible new ways to amaze and astound the common man.
I surfed around.
The Internet wants to be surfed. It takes a proactive approach to actually be a productive person. This new Google Glass from what I understand is about taking everything in your world and uploading it to Google. It's about using the Internet more, and it's about pulling more parts of your life into the Internet. So instead of using the Internet as a utility to make your life richer and be less interrupted, it's interrupting your life more to make the Internet richer with all the stuff from your life.
Which most likely will not work for me, unless of course, they can find my front porch and my lawn chair. Because that is most likely where you will find me. Most likely I will disappear for awhile, so don’t despair. Much like the proverbial fly at the company picnic I will come back later on.
Watch those right handers ...