Once upon a time, and it really wasn’t that long ago, getting to the bank before it closed meant the difference between having a “happening” Saturday night and sitting at home because you had no money to fill your tank. Worse, one had to get to the gas station before it closed.
Of course, all that changed in the 1990s when the ARPANet—once
a military safety net—exploded into the public Internet. Now, only the “ancients”
remember getting an actual paycheck from their employesr, standing in line at the
Savings & Loan to convert hard-earned dollars into spendable cash, and
then actually calling the movie theater to see what flick was playing.
Now, we deposit our checks electronically and swipe a
card to get gas—any time, night or day. If we actually go to the movies, we
pull out our cell phone and not only check the listing, we scroll a plethora of
reviews to ensure the movie truly rates our attention. More likely, we sit at home on our couch and
download the feature or skip the movie all together to text friends or find out
what they had for lunch on Facebook or Twitter—friends we might have once met
face-to-face to engage in actual conversation.
Writers who might never have gotten the attention of New
York publishers (for either legitimate reasons, because of bad timing, or just
simply because the book didn’t measure-up) can now publish and promote a novel
with little more than a few keystrokes. Of course, since anyone can hawk a
manuscript, the author's book might get lost in the sea of self-pubbed stories and may
never sell because readers wonder why they should “pay” when so many
free books exist.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet, I’m the ultimate
junkie, loving the instant knowledge and instant connection the worldwide web
provides. Hearing a song before I
download, buying shoes online so my feet don’t get tired from walking the mall,
and keeping up with the antic of Grumpy Cat makes me feel empowered.
I also love the ability to connect with the world. Everywhere is now local.
Working from home is the best thing ever. Or is it?
Over the holidays, I was fortunate enough to ski at a
beautiful resort—but the place had absolutely no cellular service. But for good
reason. The quaint little mountain village sat smack in the middle of a
national quiet zone—for an astronomical observatory. And did folks ever bellyache. The tiny areas
that supported Wi-Fi were more crowded than the slopes.
And what happens if our electronic communications go
haywire as the Gloom-and-Doom prophets predict? Do you have paper copies of
I know I should rely less on the Internet. I really
shouldn’t need my cell phone more than my left arm, but for now—I’m a digital
sheep in the electronic world. That
said, I’m going to print out a few things and make it a point to actually talk
to folks in 2014.
What about you? Are
you worried that you might be addicted to your digital devices? Make a note to (fill in the blank) and write it down. With a pencil.
Author of Blue Ridge Fear and Secret Language of Leah Sinclair