Re-Booted And Re-Configured

I'm In Ur InternetWell, my desktop computer is back up and running. It quit several weeks ago and wouldn’t talk to me at all. It taking the proverbial dirt nap. Intuitively, I knew it was the power supply. Well, I hoped it was. Whether that was because a power supply was easier to replace or I was just horrified at the prospect (and expense) of replacing a motherboard, I clung to the idea that it was the power supply. Well, I finally ordered a replacement power supply, which came in Wednesday and which I installed yesterday, and, lo and behold, the screaming blue meanie came back to life.
It actually feels rather odd to be posting something. What I discovered during my time in the wilderness without easy access to the Internet was that I didn’t really miss it at all. Rather than sitting in front of my computer for hours, tinkering on web sites and obsessively checking my e-mail, Facebook and MySpace accounts every 15 minutes, I curled up on the couch and worked on a short story that I hope to be marketing soon. I worked out a long list of fairy characters that we plan to make into posters and t-shirts. I plotted out some changes to the novel that I’m working on.
In short, I was almost a productive human being, and I found myself enjoying being free of the tether. Admittedly, once my desktop computer was back up and running, I spent most of yesterday tinkering and repeatedly checking my e-mail, even as I was hating myself for feeling like it was a note-worthy day because of my return to full connectivity. I found myself last night thinking that it doesn’t bode well for our society that so many people spend inordinate amounts of time checking in on their e-mail, updating their Facebook status whenever they make a sandwich, or twiddling away on their Blackberry’s when they have to stand in line at the supermarket. Honestly, I found myself thinking that I’d really like to be able to just switch it all off; knowing all along that I never would.
I keep thinking about myself and my journal. I’ve noodled around with a journal since December of 1984, when I wrote down a few words after my grandmother died. Even back then in the late 80’s I often bemoaned the fact that I spent more time ruminating about my life than I spent actually having a life. Nothing changed with the rise of the Internet and the advent of blogging. Actually, it got worse, because blogs made you feel like you mattered. When I was driving a truck, I wrote posts from the road, and for a time people enjoyed reading it, and for a time I actually wrote some interesting stuff, because it was an interesting time in my life. But then my wife left me and I lost most of everything I had, and my posts weren’t quite so entertaining anymore. So the hundreds of people who read my blogs every day wandered off in search of more entertaining fare, and I began using my blog as an ongoing therapy session. That pretty much ran its course, and I find myself sitting here today, typing away because, quite frankly, that’s what I do.
If nothing else, my brief exile from the Internet taught me that my life isn’t necessarily worth writing about. I don’t know if anyone actually noticed that I was gone. I still managed to do important e-mail with the people that mattered, but for most of the people whose virtual paths I cross every day online, I wasn’t gone long enough for anyone to notice. Isn’t that what the Internet is? Our Facebook and MySpace pages, and our blogs, help us feel that we matter somehow, that we’re all significant and unique in some way, but isn’t it all just an illusion? Aren’t we all just background bits of information in each other’s lives? And if our little packet of information disappears, does it really matter? It’s not like our “friends” lives will be greatly disrupted if we don’t update our MySpace status for a few weeks.
I guess in that little space of time when I didn’t have the Internet at my fingertips, my obsessions and this blog didn’t seem to matter as much. It’s like some switch was flipped in my brain which made me start thinking that it might be better for all of us, or for me at least, if we just turned the whole damned thing off. For my part, I began to consider that it might just be possible that it’s more important to accomplish something with my life than sit around in front of a computer and ruminate about the things I’ll be doing someday.
Even as I scour the Internet for a new hosting provider so that I can move my many web sites to a more reliable server, I’m considering how desperately unimportant this blog is, and how frighteningly ethereal all those virtual relationships really are. If I died tomorrow, I could count on one hand the number of people who would willingly show up at my funeral. There’d be a dozen or so who would be obligated to be there, but only a few that would really be there because they loved me. It seems to me that it makes more sense to honor those people while I’m still here than to spend my days checking in on Facebook and MySpace, updating my status and sending virtual drinks or going on virtual egg hunts with people who wouldn’t know me if they passed me on the street.
Yeah, I’m going to be moving my web sites to another server. A virtual version of cleaning house and starting over. But I don’t think my web sites are the only things that need to be re-booted and re-configured. I think it’s about high time I stop chronicling the steady erosion of the years from my existence and started making sure that when I’m gone there’ll be more of a mark left behind than simply someone realizing months after the fact that I haven’t logged-in to my MySpace account in a while.

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