Monday, October 15, 2012

....and the experiment is over

Last week after watching the movie "The Lorax", my daughter asked me if I was worried that our world would become like it is in that movie in which they have no trees.  I told her that I wasn't really worried about that.  I am worried that our world will become like it is in "WALL-E" in which everyone is mesmerized by computer/televisions all day - because our world is already becoming like that.  We already carry little computers around in our pockets, and how many of us use them while we are in the car?  I don't even get email or Internet on my phone, but can I live without my computer?  Well, last week I got to find out.

A little virus took down my computer.  So, I had no computer (including Internet and email access) for one full week.  Here is what I learned:

1. I get all of my information from the computer.  Weather, phone numbers, directions, product information, store information, medical advice, school schedules, etc.  On the first day without my computer, I realized that almost every thought I have is somehow related to information from my computer.  I couldn't even figure out how to get my computer fixed without using the Internet.  First, I called the computer guy my husband uses at work.  He didn't call me back.  Then,  I called "411" to get a phone number for someone else and found out that you can no longer talk to a real person.  The recording kept giving me a fax number.  So, I tried the really old fashioned way and drove to where I thought was a computer repair place.  I couldn't find it.  I finally had to call my husband at his office to ask him to get the information off the Internet.

2.  My brain moves much more slowly when there is no computer around.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, because my brain usually moves at mach speed.  I am an information junkie and the the Internet feeds my addiction.  I need every piece of information before I can make a decision, and the Internet provides thousands of avenues to research every topic.  I was definitely less productive without my computer, but I also had lower expectations about what I could achieve.  I was satisfied with less.

3.  So, what did I do last week with all of my time away from my computer?  I read a lot of books.  The library has informed me that I can keep the Einstein biography for one more month, so I need I finish it.  On the very first day of my computer-less existence, I read these quotes by Einstein - science has "enslaved men to machines" and "has made our lives hurried and uncertain."  He believed strongly in the simple life.  The simple life sounds great until you realize that it is the antithesis of the American life.  I have been contemplating the "simple life" as I plan my kitchen renovation, which is not simple.  When you combine my indecisiveness with my innate need to be "different", planning a kitchen renovation can take up a lot of time.  I need it to be functional, but I also want it to be beautiful.  How do I balance enjoyment of beauty with the "simple life"?  (As I am writing this, my husband is having difficulty getting our oven open, so I could list all of the practical reasons to renovate our kitchen.)

I am still contemplating what I learned from this forced experiment.  I know that I want to limit my time investigating all of my available "options" when making my decisions.  I also know that I don't want email and Internet on my phone.  I need a little forced separation.  And if you see me one day walking around with an iPhone, feel free to say, "WALL-E", and I will know what you mean.  Another thing my husband said just now was that he kind of enjoyed these last few days without a computer.

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