It has been a harrowing two days. It all began on Friday morning when my computer started  making a loud, continuous buzzing noise.  For a moment there my life flashed before my eyes (my life’s work that is) and I immediately started mumbling – "arrgh- I knew I should have backed up my data this past month."  I must admit that I was somewhat relieved (actually, I had a little "thank you God" moment) when I discovered the terribly annoying noise was coming from the modem.  I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t do any writing on my blog, but I thought that I would purchase a new modem by day’s end and my happy little world would quickly return to normal (all things being relative – not at all attempting to convince any one that I am "normal").

I spent the day on the campus, posted to my blog from my office and then toddled home to perform my modem installation duties.  It looked like a relatively simple task and all the pretty green lights came on along with one orange one.  I thought the contrast between the green and the orange were quite lovely.  Little did I know at the time that orange was not a positive color in this scenario.  Here I am after one very frustrating evening and another maddening twelve hour day to tell you that before my drama was all said and done I was on the phone with Qwest and Dell for a total of seven and a half hours.  The end result – I had to back up every file I had and my computer had to be completely reformatted (and if you haven’t ever experienced that – it is terrifying to see it all go away).  As I type now I can tell you that the only two things my computer has on it as this moment is the operating system and the internet.  I will spend tomorrow trying to reconfigure my happy computer world to some semblance of its former self.

The reason I mention this at all (other than to offer an explanation for the handfuls of hair littering the floor) is that I had a revelation during this little technological disaster.  I realized how desperately reliant I am on the internet.  I felt uncontrollably out of touch and out of the loop Friday and Saturday as I stared at my computer that allowed no outside world access.  Now, this seemed odd to me as I often travel and am offline for a week at a time with no worries at all.  It was something about knowing that I couldn’t function on line while my computer was right at my fingertips that started to turn me into a raving lunatic.  I must confess that I was getting so desperate that I actually entertained going to my son Cory’s apartment to use his internet.  I was holding off because he has a number of reptiles and although I love all critters (some from afar – quite afar) I was not keen on being within slither or jumping distance of any overly friendly reptiles – but it was getting to the point where drastic measures were going to be necessary…it was getting UGLY.

I had to have a few moments of reflection after it was finally repaired and before I got on it again.  When did this happen that I became so reliant on the internet?  I can remember the days when all the phones were corded and had dials.  There were no answering machines or call waiting – just a ring or a busy signal. If someone missed you they called back, they came over to your house or they (GASP) wrote a letter. 

And we got on just fine under that framework.  Of course you could forget about privacy. Those curly cords only went so far and they didn’t sell those longer ones until I got a bit older.  I had to deal with that twisty one and if I wanted to talk to a boy I had to do telephone aerobics to get that darn cord stretched far enough to get even the smallest amount of privacy (of course our family phone was smack dab in the middle of the kitchen – my calls were often family entertainment – try acting cool with a boy on the phone when they are all looking at you and making faces and comments).  I think that this probably explains my delayed dating life.

If a boy came over – be still my beating heart – you were typically relegated to the porch if you wanted any privacy at all.  Of course the kitchen window overlooked the porch and even the far end of the porch had a light.  But amazingly it was fine and although not really all that private it was still workable.  There was something quite charming about those porch visits.  I remember the boys (I want to give the illusion of multitudes, but more likely it was a handful over an extended period of time), they would walk from their homes often not knowing whether you were home (but they were hopeful as they called and the phone was busy for an hour – meet my sister the chatterbox).  It always felt flattering and purposeful when someone made that effort.  It made me feel special and it did not seem at all remedial or "old-school"…but, that was then.

You really can’t claim the new forty unless you admit to being around during the time when answering machines (with tapes) and cordless phones were phenomenal technology. When personal computers came along I saw them as valuable for word processing, but completely dismissed the need for internet.  At the time I remember that I could not even conceive its utility.  I thought it was a fad (yes, come get your psychic reading here).  Yet, here I am, incommunicado for a couple of days and I could barely take it.  I am ashamed at my weakness…clearly, I drank the kool-aid!  When exactly was it that I bought into conducting so much of life on the internet?

I refelcted during the four hours that I was on hold throughout the day on the many things I have come to use the internet for – banking, shopping, paying bills, finding coupons, getting medical advice, doing research, reading the paper and communicating with family, friends and colleagues – and that is just for starters.  I realized that with the internet I have eliminated the majority of reasons I would leave the house.  It’s sad really…especially if you look at the effect it is having on my fanny to be sitting around so much…sad and a little horrifying. 🙁

Whatever happened to taking the time to get out into the "real world" as opposed to the virtual world?  While it is lovely to be able to connect across the world – what about connecting in person with our neighbors and in our own community?  I worry about these things even as I too am sucked into the machine.

I am glad that I had to deal with the corded phone.  It made the communication that much more special.  I also am happy that I had the option of visits on the porch – even if my father loved turning on that darn porch light.  Those were the days my friends.  Of course I say that as I sit here typing this for a blog on the internet.  It is amazing how much things can change in a lifetime and how much you can change while you are not paying attention. 

My new forty resolution for today is to be more conscious of the technology I rely on and to remember the joy of connecting in-person with folks.  If you need me, I’ll be on the porch.

Day six of the new forty -obla di obla da