At my high school reunion this past weekend, I learned that a classmate of mine had, like me, experienced the crash of his computer and like me, was forced to go without for several days. He observed that he experienced a kind of “withdrawal” while his computer was in the shop.
I too experienced such withdrawal, a feeling akin to a bout of depression, in the days between my computer crashing and my renting one from the shop repairing this one. And while I felt better when I got a rental, I was not able to use it in my apartment until I finally entered the twenty-first century and had high-speed access installed.
It’s odd how quickly we have become dependent on such technology. For my first five years out of college, I didn’t even have a home computer. For the next five years, when I had a computer, I didn’t have e-mail. And when I finally got e-mail, I did not at first (for three years) have full access to the web.
In that period, I seemed to manage just fine without such ready connections at home to the rest of the world. As did many other Americans. As do people today around the world who still lack Internet access.
And while having easy access to news, information and others who are similarly wired is certainly a boon, I wonder what we have lost by such “virtual” connections. Do we spend less time reading and reflecting than we might once have? Does such ready connection at home discourage us from going out and making real connections in the world?
In those days a few weeks ago, when I did not have a computer — or when I had a computer and lacked internet access — I occasionally experienced feelings akin to bouts of depression. Yet, in the days before I had a computer, I was much better able to deal with this lack of ready, virtual connection. Others have experienced such “difficulties” as well. My high school classmate described this as withdrawal.
Let me hope that I remain aware of what I experienced in those days when I lacked Internet access as a reminder of how dependent I had become on virtual connections. Aware of the changes this medium has wrought, we might do more to find others means of connecting to the world. And to take more time to look within and discover the power — and the beauty — of our own individual passions.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
UPDATE (10-17-06 @ 10:44 PM PST): Just found this via The Corner: “The United States could be rife with Internet addicts as clinically ill as alcoholics, an unprecedented study released suggested.” So, maybe my classmate did go through withdrawal. Well, after reading that article, I realize I better log off!