Now just where would you (or I) be without the internet?!

Good day, good people!

Thank you for your profound input yesterday, I would like you to know that I got very little beyond the lurid green tub filling accomplished, but today will be better. I think.

Momza's comment on yesterday's post reminded me of a question I ponder often and I keep meaning to put to the brilliant minds here.

How would your life be different without the internet? Would it be better? Would it be worse? Would you be more effective in your roles, or less so? Would you even live where you do now?
And not to be melodramatic about it...would you even be alive? Perhaps you found out that streak moving merrily up your arm was in fact deadly spider venom, or that you should have weird mole checked out? Ok maybe not, but it happens, people.

Sometimes I think, "well gosh, my house would be impeccable!" I would do nothing but play monopoly with my children and concoct healthy nourishing menus for the enjoyment of my family, in between cultivating an organic vegetable garden and serving at the soup kitchen.

Perhaps I would be living in a mental institution having alienated every living creature I ever encountered?

In reality would probably be somewhere on the continuum between these extremes, it is just hard to know quite where.

Con's of the internet:

  • There is a reason it is called "the web". It sucks you in man. And every time you don't quite feel like doing something tedious and unpleasant it is a mere click away-endless entertainment and social interactions.It can steal away hours and hours of time without you even realizing it. There are many days I feel frustrated and ashamed when I consider how much time was spent online when there were other things to be done. Also, my bum feels numb.

  • There are so many options available in every conceivable department of life from how you raise your kids to how you potty train your bunny, that it can be overwhelming, confusing and sometimes undermine your confidence in your own instincts. Information overload can leave me feeling frazzled and overstimulated.

  • It can replace social interactions between the people in your own community (or even your own home!) Internet relationships often take a lot less work then "real life" ones. If you don't feel like talking to someone online, you don't log on or you just ignore them. If they irritate you at any given time you just don't visit their blog. It's harder to post an "unavailable" status when someone is standing across from you in the hall at church, school or home looking at you in a needy fashion. (Although I may consider marketing a Currently Unavailable paper bag to put over your head at times like those.) It may catch on, you never know.

Pros of the Internet:

  • Sanity through Support
Seriously I am not sure I would have gotten through the 2nd year of my daughter's life without going to jail/the funny farm, my endless bouts with thrush, the fact that my body would manufacture exactly 3 drops of breast-milk per hour, my multiple moves to places where I knew nobody, my husband's nine months of unemployment and just the loneliness and isolation that can come from being the stay at home mom of four little people, without the support of a constant core of friends on the internet.

I discovered the web in earnest when pregnant with my second son (who will be 9 this July). The women I met through my "expecting group" have been a part of my life practically every day since. They have seen me through post-partum depression (which truly I may not have survived without their help in particular the help of a friend who had experienced the same, normalized it for me and guided me to get the help and treatment I needed while "sitting" virtually with me for hours at a time giving me the comfort and perspective I needed) , and all of the above mentioned scenarios with unfailing love and support. No matter where I moved, they were never further then my laptop (and there was always a contingent of them in real life within an hour or two of my new location). One of my friends set up a lunch meeting for me with her uncle and some of his friends who lived in my new community so that I would feel as though I "knew" someone. One of my "internet" friends jumped into a car at midnight,
after having heard many hours earlier that I was in labour with my fourth child. She didn't know what stage of labour I was in, or if I had even left for the hospital yet but she knew that I had no extended family around to support me and wanted me to have someone in the waiting room to celebrate our son's arrival when that time came. She drove for more then two hours and in the end, she arrived at almost the same moment I showed up at the hospital and was an absolute angel seeing me through the final hours of my 24 hour labour, and photographing the birth of my baby. She even wrote her beautifully eloquent version of my birth story for me to treasure. (scroll below mine). She and I had met in person only once, but I really believe she was sent as a human angel that night. Another member of our group was my wonderful doula for the birth of my daughter. She saw me through that labour and tenderly cared for our family after. We have had endless care packages, notes and thoughtful calls from women from my "playgroup" over the years. Another of them even flew my husband out to say goodbye to his dying mother, we could not afford for him to make that trip, and that precious time they spent together is something he is so deeply grateful for.

(The picture above is just a few of us who converged on my friend Kathleen's house for *several days* camping in her backyard for a July 2000 playgroup "reunion" with chillens and significant others in tow. This year will mark the 4th of such massive gatherings in Quebec, CA. At the last one she hosted over 100 people! Yes, absolutely, she's crazy, but we are crazy about her.)

  • Inspiration.
I find the drive, creativity and dedication of so many women I have encountered online to be incredibly inspiring. I would never have believed there were so many phenomenal women in the world, but there are, and more! And they keep outdoing themselves. It can be a bit intimidating and irritating when they just keep getting more accomplished and perfect, but for the most part it makes me feel a little more powerful, creative and driven myself. (Image courtesy Melissa @ The Inspired Room)
  • Knowledge
There is a wealth of very valuable knowledge out there. I love to read but without the web, many of the areas I am fairly knowledgeable about would still be complete mysteries to me. My life and those I have been able to help with what I have learned, would be much poorer for it. I would be a completely different person in terms of my skills set, and I would probably be a lot less confident as a mother. My kids may have had to suffer through many of my misguided ministrations without the other moms who gave me the proper diagnosis for their ailments and I would have suffered a lot more through my breastfeeding woes if it weren't for them pointing me in the right directions.

There is no debating that the internet has enriched my life beyond measure. But it has also taken over my life to an unhealthy extent at times. I suppose the secret is, (as it almost always is).....Boring Good Old Discipline. If you can get all the magic out of it, without getting sucked in, it's an absolute miracle. If you can't, it may be time to go cold turkey for a bit. Check this out:

If you are looking for my Ultimate Blog Party post. Just click your little mouse HERE.

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Person(also known as Mommy) said...

I don't know what I'd do without the internet-I look up EVERYTHING online. I met my best friend (besides hubby) online. I conduct 99% of my "business" (paying bills, writing family members, stuff like that) online. I have what is pretty much my only source of mindless, selfish personal entertainment online.

I can unplug...when I have to. I mean REALLY have to-moving, power outages, stuff like that. But I savor my internet time, because I trade it for sleep. During the day I don't usually get a chance to get online unless we are doing something for unschool (Googling, or playing Nick Jr games) or I am using the internet as a tool (what kind of cleaner gets catchup off of couches?)...and that's not nearly as fun as all the other stuff:)

Nope. I just don't think I could do without it. Imagine how our kids will feel growing up with it their whole lives!

Stephanie said...

OK, it's so funny that you wrote about this today. Last night I was thinking about how far technology has come in the last ten or fifteen years, and I was reminded of a memory of you. When we were at Ricks, my family had just gotten a new desktop setup, and the internet was SO FAST. (In 1995 speed, of course.) I had started investigating some chat rooms (such an archaic term!) and I invited you to come to my house and see what it was like. I remember us sitting at the computer, having a dumb online conversation in some chat room, and you said something to the effect of, "That's it? What's the point of that?" Fast forward to you, today, internet guru and blogging goddess, and wow, what a change! :-) But I'm ever so glad you are an internet lover, because now we can keep in touch! And your posts are fabulously useful and enlightening and inspiring. So keep it up. I'm so glad you didn't give up on the internet!