With back to school, back to work, and back to life happening, it seems all I do is create lists. Grocery lists. Project lists. Writing lists. Shopping lists. Liquor store lists. Okay, I don’t buy wine that often but lately, I’ve been tempted to stock up. In keeping with my listmania, I began to think about how I spend my time. Free time, that is, when I’m not caring for my family or home and working.
Like the majority of Americans, I’m guessing I waste the bulk of it online, on some technological device. And while considering said online time, I would admit that much of it (the productive work and happy, social-networking stuff) is something I positively love. But then there is another part. It is dark and parasitic, sucking precious minutes from my day. Which leads me to hate. Small, tiny bits of hate.
Shouldn’t it be as simple as log on, check in, log out? In an ideal world, yes. In a world of 24/7 blogging, news feeds, social sites and more, everything becomes complicated. As in…
1. There are no established times or viewing limits. The Internet doesn’t possess any schedule or form of expiration. It goes on and on and is always open for business. Sometimes, I miss the good old days when there were only TV programs to watch, with one thing on at a time (you know, before DVRs). And if you missed your favorite show when it aired, too bad. Now please don’t get me started on the year my elementary Christmas program was scheduled the very same night as the only airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yes, I still remember it some thirty plus years later, but I somehow survived.
2. It is a world of infinity. Not only is the information superhighway chock full of information, it is a virtual traffic jam overflowing with ideas, answers, projects, news, media, connection, and more. And as you log in thinking, “Gee, I’ll just check this one thing,” it rapidly morphs into an hour and a half of lost time. One link leads to another. And another. And another. Sometimes, I miss the good old days when the only resource could be found in an actual library, via the card catalog (you know, before search engines). And if there were only two books that matched your topic, you figured out a way to make do.
3. There is no true break from it. It is needy, constantly craving affection. And if you don’t stay on top of your inbox/news feed/voice mail, you miss things. Sure, it’s mostly nonsensical things such as sarcastic e-cards but hidden in there might be an important call from school, an email from family, or an awesome status update by a close friend. Sometimes, I miss the good old days when there was one phone for the entire family, attached to the wall and without caller id or voicemail (you know, before texting). If a person needed to reach you, they dialed your number. If you weren’t there to take the call, they called again. Or not.
Of course I realize that without technology I could not self-publish my own titles or enjoy the satisfaction of working from home. The Internet and my laptop are the lifeblood of my writing. They represent my assembly line, stock room, marketing department, customer service, sales, and more. And as in every other aspect, I must find a balance. Because although I make my living on a computer…it doesn’t necessarily mean I should live on it.
Is your relationship with technology one of love or hate? Possibly both? Why?