Recently, being without Internet access for over a day was a reminder of how things used to be. (Don’t worry. I had enough chocolate to compensate.)
I’m old enough to remember when the Internet we know today was just an infant (when commercial ISPs became available in the late 80s to mid-90s). Back in the early 1990s, for me the word Internet meant the result of one of my volleyball serves. (Internet = into net or, if you’re from Chicago like I am, in da net. Ha, I crack myself up.) For interconnection, we had email on a pitiful scale where I worked—software we thought was cutting edge. We had no inkling of the technological advances soon to come. And that was back when I worked on a tiny Mac Classic at the office and later a larger desktop model—in the Mac II family.
At home, I had an old Mac PowerBook 160 with a 40 MB hard drive and four MB of RAM. You read that right. Four megabytes of RAM!!! Oh yeah, I was cooking with fire. Feast your eyes on this baby (below). I had to look on the Internet (namely here) for a photo of it, because that computer is long gone from my life!
Look at it. Cuddly, lovable. . . . Good times.
The guy at the computer repair shop I constantly visited begged me to get another computer. When the laptop finally crashed too often to be of any use, I went without a computer for a while, except for the one I used at work. And back then, I was at the office seven days a week sometimes. Around 2001, I finally moved on to my first PC—a Gateway with a 3½-inch floppy disk drive. Remember those? The disks seemed to corrupt really quickly. I lost the middle section of a novel when a disk went bad.
I’ve since had other computers. But I won’t bore you with all of the details, since I began this post with a discussion about the Internet. So let me get back to that. Though the Internet is convenient and offers so much information right at the proverbial fingertips, ironically, I’m much more productive without it. In fact, I feel a little embarrassed by how much I accomplished while offline (namely, a huge chunk of my novel revision), simply because I was not checking email every five minutes, reading blogs and other articles, or looking up goofy cat pictures like this one (which I found here).
Or this one (found here):
Why am I embarrassed? Because, sadly, this proves how much time I usually spend procrastinating. I have only myself to blame.
I remember back in the 1990s when I used to goof off playing SimTower—the product of someone else’s fertile imagination (OpenBook Co., Ltd. and published by Maxis). I spent hours coming up with the right combination of offices, condos, elevators, and restaurants, trying to keep my tenants happy. I probably spent more time playing that game than I spent building my own fictional world. And that was when I was trying to break into screenwriting, particularly at the Disney Studios. Instead of revising my awful screenplay (which was 24 pages too long), I was stressing over whether some people in a computer game were happy. But what about the people in my story? I didn’t really know them. Unfortunately for them, I never paid attention with to them with my whole head. And by that I mean my mind and senses fully engaged.
So, being without the Internet and its conveniences has caused me to think deeply about the ways I’ve often sabotaged myself by clinging to the convenience or entertainment of technology. I’m reminded of the wisdom of Andra Watkins of The Accidental Cootchie Mama blog, who once challenged her readers to unplug sometimes. (Sorry. I don’t have that exact blog post link.) When we make a conscious effort to unplug and get out into the world or get necessary tasks done, in some ways, we’re preparing ourselves for the coming zombie apocalypse, during which all technology will be useless and we have to get back to basics (like knowing how to swing an axe).
Do yourself a favor. Unplug. Unwind. And while you’re at it, perfect that axe swing.
Cats from LOL Cats. Mac computer from Old-computers.com. PowerBook 160 photos from Shrineofapple.com and Smashing Lists.com. SimTower images from Wikipedia. Floppy disk meme from here.