Well, I think in the interest of sanity, time management, family commitments and money saving, I am going to get rid of our internet connection. I have personally been hugely addicted to the internet over the past few years, as have millions of other people, but after a lot of soul searching, I have come to believe that, for the most part, people, myself included, don't as much use the internet as the internet uses them. It becomes an addiction, it becomes a way to spend hours and hours of not so free time, just wiling away the hours, not really accomplishing much of anything.
Sure I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss being able to just jump on the computer whenever I needed to look up something useful, but I think overall the quality of my life will drastically improve sans an always on internet connection.
Let's take a look at the ways a person's life could improve.
1. First and foremost, I will have more time to spend with my family. My girlfriend has gotten quite upset with me in the past for how much time I actually spend online, to the point where she has actually come up with a schedule, whereby she has apportioned time blocks throughout the day when I'm "allowed" on the internet. Is this what a relationship is all about? How loved am I making her feel when I have to pencil her into my schedule and fit my life with her around my online time? She has said that it upsets her that I feel the need to talk with complete strangers on Newsvine about things that I don't even talk to her about.
I have come to the conclusion that my girlfriend, and my children, are MUCH more important to me than the internet or Newsvine is. I waste entirely too much time here, time that could be better spent with my family.
I have heard somewhere that something like 1/3 of our lives are actually spent sleeping. I am willing to bet that for many people, up to half, if not more, of their lives are spent online. Is it just me or does anyone else find this sad? Instead of real relationships we are falling in love with our computer screens and cyber space.
Instead of going outside and having fun with their friends, teenagers today would rather go on myspace and facebook and talk with their friends that way. Instead of talking to them face to face, they prefer instant messaging, text messaging and twitter.
I think we are losing something in this great technologically age, we are losing what it means to be human.
And don't believe for a second that the tech companies out there are not fully aware of what is going on. They want us online as much as possible, or on our cell phones, or playing video games, whatever it is that they think will bring out eyes in front of as much advertising as possible. So that we can buy as much crap as we don't need as possible. But they will convince you that you do need it. Tell someone that you don't have internet in your home and they will look at you as if you come from the 19th century. "How do you live without the internet?"
I tell them that I will NOT be living entirely without the internet, I will just be relegating the internet to it's proper place. I have found, I wonder how many people know this, that every local public library has a high speed internet connection and a dozen computers all connected to that internet connection. All you need is a library card and you can jump on the internet, at my library in 30 minute blocks. If no one is waiting in line, then you can continue to extend that time.
For the past week and a half, when my internet was shut off due to non-payment, that is exactly how I was getting online. But since I was more limited in how much time I could spend on there, I found that I was actually more productive. I would go up to the library with a purpose. The other day, I went to the library and applied online for Federal financial Aid for college. Took me all of 30 minutes. If I had done this at home, it would have taken me hours. Why? Because in between looking up my tax info on my 1040 and W-2's I would have to click over to my Newsvine tab to check for updates, I would have been reading the news on Google news. I would have been doing half a million things that the things that needed to be done wouldn't have gotten done. I wasn't using the internet, I was mesmerized by the internet.
I actually got more accomplished online when my internet connection was down, just by going to the library.
And I had much more time to spend with my family. My girlfriend and I both agree, that our relationship would be MUCH better off if we didn't have the internet in our home. She is just as addicted to the internet as I am. Just the other day, I was making fun of her because after yelling at me to get off the internet and spend some time with the family, she jumps right on it. I yelled, "Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing?" She smiles up at me, "I just have to check my email and look up a recipe." I said, "To hell you do!! You want me off to spend time with the family, here I am, now get the hell off the computer." She kind of laughed and sighed at the same time, knowing I was right, but she just HAD to check her email. People are so addicted to technology that it runs our lives. Put another letter, the letter 'i' in runs and you get ruins. Technology in many respects is ruining our lives.
Take, for instance, what I'm doing right now, typing this article out on Newsvine to tell all of you that I am going without internet. In the day or two left that I have internet at home, I could be finishing up my online classes, which are due in less than two weeks. I have tests to take, papers to write, and yet instead here I am on Newsvine. Wasting time.
I guess I will have to go the library to get those classes finished up.
2. Money -- I believe we are getting nickeled and dimed to death in this technological age. I am 35 years old, was born in 1972. When I was growing up, I can remember when telephones were connected by a cord to the wall. When you wanted to talk on the phone you had to walk over and sit or stand wherever the phone was connected to the jack. I can remember not having cable television, because there was no such thing as cable television. I remember all we had was rabbit ears. I can remember when the video game system Pong first came out, and then Atari 2600. I remember life before video games. We played outside much more than after the introduction of video games. The only bills my parents had were the mortgage payment on their 2 bedroom $30,000 home, bought from my grandparents, car payment and insurance, and a telephone bill, which was, in those days, was around $15 a month. That was it.
Then HBO came along and then MTV. I remember my Dad walking to the after school nursery I attended to pick me up and as we walked back down the street to the house, my Dad asked me if I noticed anything different about the house. I did. There was a HUGE antenna connected to the outside of the house, which was now bringing in HBO and MTV. That was the extend of cable television around 1981 or so. Or as much as I remember. I also remember Showtime and Shelly Duval on some kind of series program which dramatized fairy tales.
Back then, Cable was not really cable at all, it came through an antenna, or at least that's how we got it.
So now in addition to a phone bill, we were being told that we just had to have HBO, MTV and Showtime. Then cable became truly cable and hundreds of channels with nothing on to watch. But the bill kept bigger and bigger. I can remember cable television only costing $20/ month.
For the rest of the 80's that was pretty much it. Most people only had a phone bill and a cable bill, both reasonably priced.
Then the technological explosion of the 90's happened. Cell phones, internet, now every time you turn around someone else wants some more of your hard earned money. Now most people have a landline phone bill, a cell phone bill, in which they pay over $100 a month for family service and all the bells and whistles of internet on your phone, an internet bill, Satellite or cable TV bills which can run over $100 a month for all the bells and whistles.
Where does it all stop? When do we realize that we are getting overloaded with crap that we don't need? When will we realize that we don't need all this crap that people are selling. As the late George Carlin used to say, we actually pay for storage sheds to hold all the crap that we don't need and aren't using. It's ridiculous.
Do people really need cell phones? Didn't our parents get along just fine without them? Sure they are nice and in an emergency can come in real handy but how much do we really need them?
Do we really need an always on internet connection in every home? I can drive 2 miles down the road and use the always on high speed internet connection at the local library.
Do we really need music subscription services and iPods? Didn't our parents get along just fine with FM radio? There's more subscription dollars being wasted, on XM and Sirius radio. I used to have XM radio when I was driving a truck for a living and don't get me wrong, it was really nice to have, but did I really need it? My truck had a CD player and an FM/AM radio. That was all I REALLY needed.
I found at my local library that they also loan out music CD's. I just borrowed the other day 4 CD's, including the Cranberries first two albums and Sugar Ray. Sure enough, I get home and find out that they burn quite easily right onto my computer's hard drive. Free music. I wonder what the RIAA thinks about that.
Do we really need Netflix? Sure it's nice, and I've had it in the past, but why in the world does a person need to be paying over $60 a month for Directv and then turn around and pay $15 a month for Netflix. It doesn't make any sense. But those that are making money off of this stuff have us all pretty convinced that we can't live without this stuff. This crap in our lives.
And once again, I found that my local library has shelves and shelves of movies in both DVD and VHS format. Completely free. The library card itself is even completely free.
Simplify, simplify is becoming my mantra!! I have been thinking about this subject for many years now, since I realized that we are being nickeled and dimed to death and I realized how much money I could save if I could just forego a lot of the nonessentials. The first step is realizing that it is ALL nonessentials. Despite what you are being told, none of it is essential, not for the average person. Not unless you're a traveling business man who needs constant access, but even in that case, your company usually pays for the services you use. So unless you are own your own business, ALL of this stuff is nonessential.
Reading this past summer Thoreau's Walden was a real eye opener for me. That does not mean that I ran right out and signed up to be a Luddite. Getting rid of all of these encumbrances has not been easy. I have gone without cell phone for awhile, only to get one again, thinking, "Man it sure would be nice to have a cell phone." And so I sign up for a 2 year agreement. What a crock of shit these companies are selling us. They are so afraid that we will realize that we don't actually need their cell phones or that we will fly off to a competing service, that they have to try and lock us into these draconian 2 year agreements, that usually costs $150 to get out of.
The other day, my girlfriend accidentally send my cell phone through the washing machine and dryer inside of my pants. The phone is ruined, will not even turn on any longer. And so, once again, I have been without a cell phone. And you know what? I've been perfectly fine. The only thing that has kept me from giving it up completely is the 2 year service agreement, but if you add up the charges over the 2 years it is probably actually cheaper just to pay the $150. Plus I've already been through two other phones with Embarq that just completely quit working, the first one would no longer charge, the second one would no longer turn on, I am tempted to take this one back and tell them this one quit too and I'm tired of their shoddy products and I want out of my agreement sans the $150 fee. I'm sure they will not go for that though.
Oh, and you know what else I found at my local library? This might come as a shock to some people, but they have thousands and thousands of books!!! I bet you thought you needed Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com for that didn't you?
Here is a really good talk given at a conference back in 1997 entitled, "Against Technology". It is really interesting and starts off thusly:
"Thanks for coming. I'll be your Luddite this afternoon. The token Luddite, so it falls on me to uphold this unpopular or controversial banner"
Here is a poem I found on a website about the Luddites:
The guilty may fear, but no vengeance he aims
At the honest man's life or estate;
His wrath is entirely confined to wide frames
And to those that old prices abate.
These Engines of mischief were sentenced to die
By unanimous vote of the Trade;
And Ludd who can all opposition defy
Was the grand Executioner made.
And when in the work of destruction employed
He himself to no method confines,
By fire and by water he gets them destroyed
For the Elements aid his designs.
Whether guarded by Soldiers along the Highway
Or closely secured in the room,
He shivers them up both by night and by day,
And nothing can soften their doom.
He may censure great Ludd's disrespect for the Laws
Who ne'er for a moment reflects,
What foul Imposition alone was the cause
Which produced these unhappy effects.
Let the haughty no longer the humble oppress
Then shall Ludd sheath his conquering sword,
His grievances instantly meet with redress
Then peace shall be quickly restored.
Let the wise and the great lend their aid and advice
Nor e'er their assistance withdraw
Till full fashioned work at the old fashioned price
Is established by Custom and Law.
Then the Trade when this ardorous contest is o'er
Shall raise in full splendour its head,
And colting and cutting and squaring no more
Shall deprive honest workmen of bread