Take A Break – Because You Have The Choice

Blogging may be a great reason for having a computer, but it’s not the only one.

The computer provides family connectivity.  I love glimpsing the lives of  three generations after me.   At first, I thought it was necessary to jump in with comments, but I soon learned that I needn’t waste my time.  

“Hi…this is your great aunt…no wait!  This is your grand, great…  Maybe I’m your great, great aunt.  Oh hell!  I’m your fabulous aunt.  Deal with it and acknowledge my damned comment!”

When I’m not decoding the younger set, I’m using the computer for each aspect of my personal life; from stock trading to games that have improved my eyesight to cooking.

When I think about life 20 years ago, we epitomized patience.  We waited for everything.

Remember when we dared to dream about one computer talking to another or looking after chores that would save us time?  Today, thoughts of being without my electronic assistant cause an apoplexy akin to caffeine or cigarette withdrawal.

I had an appointment off-island recently and smugly thought, ‘Aha!  This will be good.  Let’s see what I observe without any electronic distraction.’  

I walked out the door, proud of my disentanglement.  Just as I keyed the door’s lock, a rush of dread gripped my chest.  I flung the door open, grabbed my laptop sans electrical cord, shoved it into my briefcase and raced to the ferry.  My trip to the appointment gave me 3/4 of an hour to scheme when and where I would find WiFi and how long my battery would last.

I am not surprised a man has invented a software package that allows the user to set the amount of time to be  locked out of one’s computer.  He’s touting it as a tool for children, but in a radio interview, he confessed that his self-discipline is so bad that he also needs this capability.  This man who could feasibly end up with a fortune may never have time to use his own software!

Over the past year, I’ve deliberately watched how much time I spend on my computer.  It’s lots!  I made a promise to take better care of myself.

Then, a lightning bolt struck.  An astute young CBC interviewer, Strombo, talked to some folks from Reporters Without Borders.  They presented findings that made me re-think my whingeing and whining about self-discipline.

Imagine living in a country where people are locked out by their government.  Imagine my surprise at these data from The 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index*:  (Click on the photo to enlarge)


I’m off to do something else that I love – spend time with real, live people.  I’m going to wallow in their laughter and share the passing world while watching their faces.  I’ll hug a few of them and revel in delicate scents of their soaps and lotions.  I’ll feel their arms around me and know that I am still a part of a vibrant community of caring people.

While I’m doing that, I’m going to remember that I can come back home and choose whether or not to turn the computer on.  My heart will be with those who have no choice.

Let’s plan a day when this map is all one color – one that allows all of us to discipline ourselves, as and when we wish.


*Map Source:  Strombo:

” The rankings are based on a questionnaire that is sent to partners and correspondents of Reporters Without Borders in every country considered. The “Press Freedom Barometer” is determined by statistics that show the number of journalists and media assistants killed or imprisoned in the country in the last year, and the number of netizens – bloggers, internet activists and social media organizers – sent to jail.”

George Stroumboulopoulis does investigative interviewing on CBC:  Strombo.  Yes, followers do actually pronounce his whole name!


52 thoughts on “Take A Break – Because You Have The Choice

  1. I remember not so long ago, i did not have a lap top, and not long before that i did not have internet, and not much longer before that i did not even have a computer. I wrote in a notebook. i called people on the phone. I wrote letters. I drove to peoples houses! Now, this was not a long time ago, maybe FIFTEEN years ago! Not long at all. I am not being ironic. This is all very recent. The majority of my very fulfilled life had no computer in it at all. We can do without them and we CAN do without the internet. You are very right .. we have choices and we need to fight very hard to make sure that we are able to make them. Then make sure we make those choices. c

    • Yes, Celi. It really was not that long ago that I thought freedom fully arrived when I added a fax machine in my home office. In fact, it did help me work from home on some contracts.

      I confess I would have a tough time going back to an encyclopedia each time I needed information. Even a current set likely would not have the data I need. Most of the items I research are current…

      Plus I’d miss your farm like mad!

  2. Enjoy time away from the computer spent with other people? Real life conversation, hugs, kisses, smelling scents? Gee, I think I used to do that too…around15-20 years ago (if memory serves me well). Maybe I’ll try it again…as soon as someone invents a computer implant. 😉

  3. Wow! The map is pretty scary eh? You live in the *BEST* country Amy.

    I spend each and every day at work without access to a computer or to world news. I could be selling postcards and pencils and the world outside the gates could’ve ended for all I know.

    • You could be living the best life, Rosie – engaged with people from all over the world who are just being themselves. Your blog is offering “real world” exchanges to people who sit at home listening to the news – getting stressed by politicians! 😀

  4. I hate to admit how much time I spend on the computer online or just writing…and my hubby is just as guilty. We spend most nights side by side, each on our own laptops…we gave up daily television except for the occasional sports game, documentary, or movie.

    • Last year, two women came and stayed with me for 5 days. We yakked the first day. Then, our laptops slowly crept onto a table occasionally. Finally, all three of us would sit in the livingroom completely into our laptops – forwarding silly stuff to each other! Our idea of sociability was to share what we were looking at – which was often just a disruption to the others. We laughed at ourselves, but we didn’t stop doing it! 😀

  5. Ah yes … makes me think of Lake Wasatch a wonderful place with about 10 cabins … no WiFi and no cell phone access. We meet the kids there for a long weekend the weekend after Labor Day. It is one of the highlights of my year.

    Amy I hope you share lots of hugs … tons of them.

    • That sounds like a perfect place to get together as a family, Liz. I hear of families doing a similar stint and once everyone gets over their withdrawals, they begin to get creative, interested and interesting. Yes, I will get as many as I can…we’re a huggy lot up here, Raven.

  6. My only connection to the internet is my desktop. No laptop or smartphone. So it’s relatively easy to “disconnect” from cyberlife to engage with people face to face.

    Choice is good.

  7. Hi Amy….my first reaction was NO!
    You can’t go AWOL.
    I shall miss you too much.
    Then I relaxed.
    You DO know you are hooked?
    I am quite sure you will be sneaking back online.
    However, I do agree….nothing like real live people and hugs.
    You will just have to do both.
    Granny has spoken.
    Don’t make me come over there. 🙂

    • Granny…you are a hoot! No, I was only heading out to spend time with some friends…disciplining myself to keep balance in my life! We had about 5 days of snow, then really cold weather. I just stayed at home, kept the fires burning and made sure the neighbours were all okay. I’m a neighbourhood leader so am given weather forecasts, road reports, etc etc to share with neighbours. So I have been reminded how much we rely on the Internet for the important things in life like safety and connection.

      The threat of SOPA and now ACTA really incense me and kick me into action. ACTA is another sick attempt at Internet Governance by corporations. (Jeez!) Europe has been giving it serious consideration. Mon Dieu!

      See how I can increase my time on the computer?! It is an addiction, but it’s also where all my information is! Maybe I can cut out my other addictions. Like chocolate and tea! Oh, then there’s the secret ones! Mind your thoughts, Granny! 😀

  8. This is something that I worry about often Amy. I spend too much time in the blogosphere and I really wish there was a faster more efficient way to read and respond to so many friends.

    • Me, too, Tammy. I’ve found that I respond more sparingly to people who post every day or even more often. (Sometimes it has to be to 3rd or 4th one.) If everyone only posted once a week, the blogosphere would be much more manageable. (Who started the “post-a-day” idea?!)

      I guess we all just have to become so famous that we only write and our staff can look after visiting, responding and commenting on our behalf!

      Some of my fav longer-time bloggers, like you, post less frequently and it really takes the pressure off! I’ve had to accept that I will respond when I have time. When my eaves need a repair, I do it. When the wood has to come in or I need more kindling, the cat is no help! 😀

  9. Hi,
    A great post with some very good points. I have a desktop here at home, and that is my only connection to the internet. I am amazed when I go out the amount of people that do have smart phones Ipads etc. sitting in Restaurants doing whatever on their phones, it always amazes me.

    When we have a girls day out, everyone makes a point of turning off their phones, personally I think it is very rude when you are out with someone, having a good conversation, and as soon as their phone rings, everything ends. 😦

    • I notice, too, Mags. It’s amazing. With some of my friends, the smartphone is never put away. It is rude indeed – and they don’t realize what they are doing to themselves. Obviously this thing is attached to their attention where ever they are. Life is going on without them.

      Long live intimacy…may it be able to outlast this stage of addiction. 😀

  10. One more great post from you. From past eight months, I have not seen any of my family member or close friends face, that to be living in my own country. So now my laptop is my best friend, as it keeps me connected to those people who hold importance to me. More than it, now I came across so many wonderful people like you, from whom I can learn so many things. May be I have an extended family now, due to internet. 🙂

    • What an interesting comment, Arindam! Thank you for giving a younger person’s point of view – so important.

      Without replacing the love of being with friends and family, why not have an attitude of “extended family”? Perhaps we need to change our attitudes and say, thanks to the computer, we are “carrying them with us”.

      In fact, older folk use computers in this manner as well. As people have become more busy (another subject!), some parents would not have as much contact if not for the social networks, etc. Instead of fighting the concept, perhaps we simply need to use it more wisely.

      We certainly don’t have to sit on it for hours waiting for word from someone!! 😀

  11. I come from a part of the world which was much slower when I was young. Didn’t get to see a TV till 1978, when I got married and came to the capital city of Delhi.We got a phone connection at home much later. it’s been just around six years since I’ve started using a mobile and it hasn’t been long since I got computer savvy. But now I depend so much on the internet for connectivity and information gathering..even reading too. It does provide a certain kind of freedom as far as communication is concerned. But at the same time , it does take away a lot from human interactions… real vis-vis virtual interactions, that is. Blance is the key I guess. Lovely post Amy:-)

    • Your learning curve has been very steep, Nadira. Your adjustment to marriage, city, technology…all at once. Wow! If your dignity is any indication, you have come through with grace.

      I, too, began life in a rural setting where nature taught me lots. My mother was my “internet”. She was a teacher and I believed she knew everything though, as I grew, her answers began to be a finger pointing to a dictionary or encyclopedia. 😀 We never had a phone or TV until the 1960s. Many of my friends find that hard to believe.

      I am very grateful for the internet, especially for the way it opens the world to all of us. Living in unity is at our fingertips. We cannot allow politicians or corporations to muck it up. To me, that would be akin to fencing in all our glorious wildlife all over the planet.

  12. I’m a very shy person and have bipolar disorder. I also love to write and get feedback without having the discomfort of face to face communication/critique. I only really started using the internet for this per pose a few years ago and its made all the difference to my life. I have lots of online friendships and have learned so much in such a short time. My illness is all but in total remission and I’ve managed to come off meds (which no one ever thought possible). Some people are simply better suited to online communication and it can be a life-line. I hope for blanket availability, sooner rather than later.

    • Since I have a family member who is also bipolar, I have a great deal of empathy for you. It is miraculous that you are able to be off meds, Shah. My family member has tried to change brands & dosages with inevitable episodes that landed her back in the hospital. I understand that meds are a life long commitment for her.

      I do understand that personal contact for her means not being able to detach from energy and vibes of others. Socializing can be a major challenge. Thankfully she can gauge how much socializing she can take and quietly finds a quiet room where she can shut out the world for a while. Actually, she’s the one in the family who does the best job, out of all of us, of keeping in touch. It used to be in letters and now she also uses the computer.

      Thank you for joining us in the blogosphere, Shah. May life on your computer be a continuous “celebration of freedom”. We’ll keep thinking, “BLANKET!”

  13. Connectivity, it is indeed a deep and intertwined topic. Since I retired from a very active job, I have found myself spending (gulp) nearly all of my waking time somehow engaged with the computer. My only concern about this is the lack of activity and how that will affect my health.

    It is incredible how quickly our means of gathering information and communicating with each other has changed. It must have been 1998 or so when I got my first internet service. My husband, at that time, was a tech type who needed to stay up to speed for work but enjoyed the challenges also. He drug me along with him into the cyber world and I’ll be forever indebted to him for that. It wasn’t long before we two were emailing each other funnies, news bytes, or scheduling details from the second floor of the house to the first floor. We laughed about it.

    Today my range circles the world. That would never have happened without the internet. I can communicate with feet on the street during the Egyptian revolution. I learn about the people and festivities in India. I make friends with people from all over. And these relationships aren’t merely surface, they involve emails with shared dispair and shared joy. My life seems so rich today.

    Also, the internet has given me a platform for writing and exploring. Without it, I don’t know what I’d write or who would read what I write. And the news sources, my heavens. It may be confusing because there are so many versions of the truth, but at least we have the opportunity to examine as many versions as we want, whereas, without the internet, we’d be restricted to what the corporate world decides we should know. And then there’s the speed at which the world is changing. Text books and encyclopedias are outdated before the ink is dry. I can’t imagine a world without the internet.

    In March, I will have to make do without it for about 3 weeks. I will be busy and inundated with face-to-face interaction with relatives in Europe. Sure, there’s internet in Germany and Austria, but I know from past experience that I won’t have the time or energy to journal, much less go online. That will be my choice!

    Enjoy your face time!

    • I also learned computers by jumping in, Linda. In 1983, I went up to Yukon to fix a School District’s financial mess. A note was pasted to the monitor on my desk from a woman named Priscillia in Vancouver. I was to phone her before doing a thing. Up to that point, I’d only been a grateful user of computer data, but some nerds in the data department looked after inputting, keeping and extrapolating the data for me. I had played on a Commodore 64, but only found I hated having to write programs.

      Priscillia – Computer-Wonder-Woman – immediately talked me through putting a new motherboard into the desktop computer and then downloading financial software that I needed to learn how to run. My knowledge level: I asked, “Which one is the ON button?” Priscillia was clever – she knew I’d fall in love with the programs because they saved enormous amounts of time and frustration.

      She taught me to do spreadsheets (the precursor for Excel- which I LOVE) and in no time at all, a computer savvy gal I hired (phew!) and I had the mess all cleaned up. From then on, all I needed was a long telephone cord and Priscillia. We did all the IT work thousands of miles apart. When we finally met in person, it was like old home week.

      Priscillia showed me that these little monkeys don’t have to intimidate us. Plus, logic is logic is logic. I’ve thanked her at times when I had to “fool” software into allowing me to get done what I have to do.

      As Arindam says, the computer has become an extended family member for many of us. I would have one hellish adjustment if I had no internet – or if I had to pay for all the info I go after.

      As William said in the earlier comment…I’m one of those who’d likely go for the implant. 😀 However, I will not give up my face to face, skin on, contact!

  14. I remember life without personal computers and now I can’t imagine life without my trusty laptop. My oh my, how life changes. I also remember when the wrinkles disappeared when I stopped smiling… 😉

    • So funny, Lorna! I was thinking the other day how I now do chores when all necessary body parts are working up to par! Is that the way one has to live for another 30 years? Good grief!

      Yes, Viva la Change! I guess it’s time to give my Trusty Toshiba a name. She deserves one. ;D

  15. Wow – so true. Thinking back to yesterday – I actually got through the whole day without switching the laptop on OR checking my mail, etc on my iPhone…and it was really hard as I found my thoughts kept shifting to them, and I did find myself looking at them. Hell, I even had to resist taking my iPhone to bed with me last night to check through things. Instead I actually went to bed…to sleep!

  16. I gotta tell ya……disconnect is something I do on a regular basis. We plan that cuz we like adventures, we like going and we like being able to just be present in the day, right where our feet are.

    I surrendered my ‘fight’ with computers/technology when the now grown kiddos were in school……..and I was dealing with required alienation from the world for health reasons.
    I was going nutz and someone suggested a website with a support chatroom.

    Of course I didn’t go there and do that. LOL I went to another chatroom where *I* could be the ‘support’. It always works for me to get out of myself to help others…

    It all went warp speed from there.

    It remains a piece of my life–a significant piece. Lots of great things have happened for me and others as a result OF this medium…….and I’m hugely grateful for that.

    And now–I shall disconnect and move into the day! We have blue skies and a trainshow to go to…..and trains to watch! 🙂

    • It’s fascinating to hear the ways that the Internet has significantly given quality to people’s lives. Oh we know the obvious benefit – companionship – but the specifics of how and why it was needed and delivered are so beautifully personal and unique. Like the outlet you found so you could give – a magical component to healing.

      Mel, I can sooooo understand how your healing charges when you can give.

      Plus, I think of our mutual friend, Bill, who was given a diagnosis that meant his time on this planet was limited. He started his Blog “A Dying Man’s Daily Journal” http://hudds53.wordpress.com/ and he’s still posting…years after his life expectancy.

      As long as we do it with balance, how can we beat that?!

  17. Overall, my life is enriched by using the computer. I’ve continued to learn so much, keep my mind active, and meet marvelous people. I’ve even developed a healthy balance, I think, between on and off the computer. I’m grateful for it.

    • Hi SDS. Nice to hear from you. Hope your folks have settled in a bit more…I’ve been thinking about you. Good for you finding a good balance. I wonder if it helps that you have that other art form…painting.

  18. Hi Amy,

    Great post – so true. We’re addicted, aren’t we?

    I remember those days of hand written letters and being surprised when someone called or showed up at the door with their latest news. Now with the internet, it’s instant – no surprises. No, “oh my, your little one has grown so much”. Now we see it happening right before our eyes.

    In some ways I miss the good old days, but now that I’ve discovered the blogosphere, Facebook and the like, I’m thrilled with how I can quickly expand my knowledge base, connect with others, make friends online and share what I find with others.

    Although I wouldn’t want to go backwards, I’m glad I experienced the world prior to the pc. Good memories.

    Have a great day, Amy.

    • Great attitude, Barbara – appreciating what was while getting on with what is. My computer, too, is a portal to an aspect of the world I would otherwise not have – access to younger members of the family I’d otherwise not recognize as “our own”. Plus, having instant access to information is phenomenal.

      To the cries of, “What’s happening to intimacy?!”….we’ll adapt. We’ll adjust. New issues will arise and old ones will dissolve.

  19. Hi Amy .. I don’t take my phone with me .. and hardly use it – but it’s the only phone I have .. so it’s around. The laptop sits on the desk .. and I am on it rather a lot .. I have a sore bum!

    Cheers for now – it does keep me educated and learning – that I love .. but I do enjoy people’s company too .. Hilary

    • I’m coming to realize that the internet is far more than information – it’s companionship in ways we had not predicted. If a young person needs electronics to stave off homesickness, sobeit. If a person diagnosed with a life threatening disease and finds a chat room that comforts and facilitates healing, sobeit!

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