What makes me know exactly how important the internet has become in my life is how nervous it makes me to not have it.
This morning, while waking up over a cup of peet’s, I was was ripping CDs, looking up details about a particular jazz sax player I’ve been into lately, paying a couple of bills, and checking weather for the day to see if it was going to be warm enough to ride to work.
In the middle of all this, comcast suffered an epic fail, and completely crashed my entire city (as they later told me on the phone, though without using those exact words).
The thing is, that entire list above was just what I was doing as I sipped my coffee; all at the same time. For people like me with short attention spans, multi-tasking is a natural sate. Real life doesn’t support multi-tasking very well; I can’t scramble an egg while I read a book, or change my oil while I drive to the store. But I can check a bank balance at the same time I pay a bill, or read about a sax player at the same time that I read his discography and look up details about the kind of horn he liked to play.
So when I lost my connection, and it began to be obvious it wasn’t just a temporary fall-out, I began to get very, very twitchy.
Particularly when I’m still sleepy, I need something to do with my hands. In the old days I used to read newspapers; typically while standing in the kitchen. I don’t want to sit down when I first wake up; I need to move, get blood flowing. I need to get my brain awake with some sort of simple, tactile activity. Information, with only minimal interaction. Don’t talk to me in the morning, I tell people; you’ll get at best grunts and growls, and maybe worse if you start asking question.
When I began to switch from newspapers to the internet for my morning information dose, it was a dove-tail fit; all the info I wanted, something to do with my hands, and the ability to interact only as my brain woke up. The ability to do five things at a time, with no idle waiting.
This morning I find myself increasingly agitated. I hate waiting
When does something go from being a toy, a novelty, to being a ubiquitous part of life? When does it go from being a convenience or a source of entertainment to being something upon which we depend for most basic needs?
My kids have no memory of a time before the internet; indeed, when I do the math, many of today’s college students don’t remember a time when they could not email or web browse. While my co-workers all remember a time when ‘internet connection’ meant a dumb terminal and a 2400 baud modem, if you happened to have such a thing at home, and when email was something you used at work. But remembering the time when only über-geeks knew what internet meant does not help me today; I am as dependent on connectivity as any twelve-year-old WoW player.
(I lose sooo many geek points, as Jeff Hoooooover points out; it’s WoW, not W-O-W. I doth hang my head in shame. Ok, fixed, but still…)