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07/18/2006 Archived Entry: "Back to full-time connectedness; not happy"

BEING BACK IN THE WORLD. And not wild about being here.

Three weeks ago the local Internet cafe closed without notice, leaving me with no means of getting email. I could still surf at the local library, but their systems are set up to allow little but surfing.

The Internet cafe had been key to the success of my Year of Silence (a year without home Internet or landline telephone). I had to choose between an extremely effortful and crippled Net experience or returning Internet service to Cabin Sweet Cabin.

Several friends were very helpful. But in the end, one was instrumental in setting me up with satellite Internet. Internet without telephone. It was a compromise.

A lot of people have noticed that in the last six months with no home noisy-boxes, I've become contemplative, peaceful, and a deeper writer. Now here was my Netly nemesis, right in my home again.

It's been 12 days. And I haven't handled it well at all.

First problem is my own tendency to mindless Net-clicking or trivia hunting, particularly when I'm tired, depressed, or stuck on how to begin a column or article. Wanna know the year Wat Tyler died or what Crispin Glover's middle name really is (he claims it's Hellion)? Just bow down to the Great Machine.

Second is an oppressive sense of duty. Although I truly thought I'd extricated myself from the Net these last few months, suddenly, all over again, I must answer that email (or fret if I don't), I must blog, I must get involved in this cause or that discussion. (And no, guys; it's not your problem. It's mine. I often enjoy the individual emails; it's the collective email that boggles my tiny mind.)

Third has been The Machine itself. I won't go into the gory details. But they've involved an update of firewall software that caused the collapse of computer civilization, virus software that was worse than getting a virus, the need to repair one busted operating system, and the need to install, update, and move duplicate files onto another. Grim. Many hours of grim. (You've been there, too, I know.) And all because of returning to an always-on connection.

I remember now my pre-Silence feeling of trying to find a compromise with the Net and discovering the effort to be as difficult as trying to find a compromise with government. It may be "just me," but there it is.

Still, to earn a living I'll either have to find a good compromise with this beast or take a friend up on a generous offer that would once again give me reliable, but remote and occasional, Net access.

My (half)Year of Silence has been the best thing I've experienced in decades -- the best growth, the best thinking, the greatest joy. I'm not going to let the Internet -- whether my own trivia-seeking, Netly duties, or the trickster gods Gates, Torvalds, and their pranksterish ilk -- mess with my head and my time too much longer.

Posted by Claire @ 01:53 PM CST

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