Thursday, May 8, 2008

Confessions of a Blogger

I'd really like to be writing this as an on-line journal post, but I'm not. I'm merely writing in my open office because, once again, our Internet isn't working. For the last month or so it's been very on and off, and so I never know whether I'll be able to see the wider world beyond my desktop. Of course, invariably I feel like I'm missing something crucial or important and urgent, only to finally gain access a day or two (or even a week, in one case) later, and realize that no, nothing actually did happen. No one (or maybe just one) on my entire links list would have updated, and since I wasn't on to write a post, no one commented on the unwritten post that remained in my head, so my site is boring as well. As Avram said to me once in an email, when our Internet hadn't been working for several days, and then finally did again, “there's nothing more depressing than not being able to get on the Internet, then finally getting on, and nothing has happened while you were away.”

It's the potential of events that keeps me glued; maybe my sister sold her house, or maybe my other sister's husband heard from the slow-poke government agency he's applied for, or maybe someone I know has suddenly gotten married/pregnant/died, and I won't know until I can check my email, and my blogs and everyone else's blogs that I don't even know, just to be reassured once again that nothing has actually occurred in their lives, at least not worth noting on-line.

I think I'm addicted to the Internet. Just the rush of being on isn't enough; I keep on needing more and more of a rush, which is why I think I keep on reading more and more blogs (traditional surfing I find to be very boring, and I can never think of anything to look up on Google when I'm actually on the Internet, just later when it's not working), in an effort to up my chances of hearing at least something new and different when I get on-line. Also, I go through withdrawals, another sign of addiction. A funny thing to note is after several days without Internet, I actually feel more free; I keep the house cleaner, knit more, read more, and spend more time with Lydia. Based on that alone it sounds like I aught to get rid of the Internet all together, but on the other hand, I also feel more and more unconnected with those I care about the longer I'm off, and I feel very isolated (which partly has something to do with where I live. The two comments I invariably get when people come to visit me here [which happens a lot because currently every dinner is provided by a different sister from the Relief Society] is how beautiful it is out here, and also how isolated it is.])

I hazard that I'm not alone in this new-fangled Internet disease; how many of you would notice if your Internet stopped working every few days, sometimes for days at a time? Would it disrupt your life any?

To change change the topic slightly for a minute, although I'll tie it back in in a moment, my Mother hated the television throughout my childhood (and continuing through to today, as a matter of fact). We usually had a television, because they have a habit of just appearing in homes, like secret mould in corner closets. People were constantly giving us them, just as fast as she could get rid of the last one. At a certain point, we just kept the junky old one that we had, with fake-wood plastic sides, and that was constantly in need of rabbit ear antennas it usually didn't get. Although older siblings, friends and even strangers seemed to be constantly offering to upgrade this TV, my Mother kept being emotionally convinced that one day she would succeed in ultimately getting rid of this one as well, and so refused any upgrades because we didn't need them; we didn't need a TV at all. We also never subscribed to cable (I didn't know this was considered standard in many homes until I was an adult), and the only movies I can specifically remember owning as a child were Cinderella and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

All of this didn't stop me from still being influenced by the TV of my day, nor from watching too many episodes of Full House, or TGIF Fridays, or even Tiny Tunes, Darkwing Duck, and Chip and Dale. Especially as I grew older, more and more TV watching occurred in our home, not to mention some pointless hours also spent in front of our Super Nintendo, playing Earthworm Jim, Mario RPG, or Final Fantasy II (that is until one of our baby rabbits we periodically brought inside to play with chewed through the cord, and forever ended video games in our home).

However, as I became an adult, I realized that I echoed my mother more than I had realized growing up; I too didn't, and still don't want a TV in my home. This was something that Avram and I always agreed on, and so we never even thought of buying one upon our marriage. I've never regretted not having a TV; we watch movies on our computer (although I would like to get a TV someday to use solely as a viewing monitor, and not hook it up for television showing, because I do get tired of squinting at a computer screen across the room from me), listen or watch conference on the Internet, and basically haven't missed having a TV at all.

I feel like we spent our time better this way, and don't get sucked into hours of silly sitcoms and commercials. In fact, now when I'm around a TV, I find I have no patience for watching it, and tire easily of the noise and flashiness of it all, not to mention the inane dialogue. Dare I say it, I've even felt a little proud of how un-dependent we are on modern “necessities” (including cell phones), and how maybe we're even better people, because we're not wasting our time with TV, and how much better balanced my children will be, without television.

I've felt proud until I recently realized that the time waster of the future isn't television, or at least television alone; it's the Internet. And referring back to my first topic, I spend plenty of time on the Internet/thinking about blogs I read or posts I write/wanting to get on the Internet when it's not working. And although I believe the Internet has greater potential for good than TV does, and it's what allows me to keep in touch so well with my family and friends back in America, the Internet also has its fair share of noise and flashiness, as well as ads that function as commercials on most pages. Plus there never was so much mis-information at my fingertips.

In contrast to TV I can't even contemplate getting rid of our Internet, let alone our computer. Really in today's world, computers are essential; Avram had to have a laptop for his program here, and it's a good thing he does, because unlike the good old Harold B. Lee library at BYU, the multifarious libraries here (they're completely decentralized, and so each of the 39 colleges has its own library, plus each department, like the Theology library, or the Oriental Institute Library, as well as the library here at Yarnton Manor, called the Mueller Library, all three of which Avram uses on a regular basis, have their own short and irregular hours. That's not even counting the central library, the Bodleian, which despite having every book published in Britain on hand, doesn't let you check a single one out, so is also very limiting in its own way).

All this means that unlike at BYU, where I at least managed to write all of my papers on the fourth floor of the HBL library, Avram finds it very necessary to use our laptop at home. And although technically I know that the Internet, at least at home, is still not a necessity, it sure feels like one to me. After all, we all survived before there was Internet, and even managed to enjoy life as well. Avram has essential school email he has to check every day (they even made him sign a form saying he would do so), I could manage just moving to phone and paper contact. But I don't like to contemplate such a move, and as cheap as I am, Internet always goes into planning a budget, whether it's living somewhere with the Internet included, or paying for it ourselves.

I've been thinking a lot about the Internet, and as it plays into Elder Dallin H. Oak's talk, “Good, Better, Best,” and trying to make my time on the Internet into the better and best category, and not just good (or even worse, not bad, but not much else either) category. I foresee that this is a balance I'll be working on for a while to come, as I predict will be for many of you. After all, the Internet is the wave of the future that we're all riding, hopefully with uplifting and well spent time in the meanwhile.

*Addendum. It's now tomorrow, and I've sneaked over to the Manor house to use the network here, since our house still doesn't have access to it. We think it's a problem with the router, but we seem to be on the bottom of everyone's priority list, so it may be a while until it's fixed, and it keeps on breaking anyway. It's sinfully exciting to have Internet, though, even if just for a half hour or so. Also, I realized partly I use the Internet so much here because in a large part it's also my social life here, and so without it my only social outlet is my immediate family.


  1. i check your blog every day. I am addicted!! I went large parts of my college life without a computer nor internet in my home. Since i have been married we have always had it and I am addicted. I think it has something to do with being a SAHM and this is my only window to the outside world! I dotn usually watch the news, so i catch up on the internet. I dont do much socializing in real life, i dont have a car and i am kind of a loner. So all i have are my online friends! arent i pathetic?

    oh and just had to comment that even though we have a TV and porter watched things like thomas and friends ( the train), and curious george on PBS that is all he knows. We were at someones house and they were watching some cable kids show and porter was so confused about the commercials ( pbs has none) he seriously threw a fit for he thought we had changed the channel! People are amazed we dont have cable. I think there is enough stuff on regualr tv why pay for cable? I am too cheap for that! but not having internet.. i think i would get rid of some of my weekly produce before getting rid of the internet! I would miss you too much mostly, this is the only way i have contact with you.

    wow that was long. I dont even remember what my point was. i tend to ramble alot on your blog. i think i must miss you. :)

  2. Books, though, good were the timewaster of yesteryear and still are for some folk who don't spend much time on the internet or TV. Don reads like it is an urgent assignment which must be finished before a host of other things which could arguably be better use of time. I remember your book days, too, Thora. Even though I like to read, I find I can get bored with that and would rather spend my time doing some other stuff--including some internet but I do limit it to certain activities.

  3. I fully admit I'm addicted to the internet. I have been addicted since my freshman year. There have been pauses, like when I tied my laptop shut with string during my freshman year, and my sophomore year when Sparks II's internet never allowed my laptop to connect, ever, the whole year. But now that I have a nice stable connection, I'm back. I go back and forth about it, too, because I do get things done when it doesn't work, but on the other hand I can stay in touch with people and find information easily.
    Samuel and I will not have cable in our home, ever, too. I didn't have it growing up and never felt sorry. I hate TV so much, with the exception of a few shows that I have reluctantly been introduced to (Fraggles, etc).
    Mozilla Firefox has an add-on that you can download for free that totally wipes out all add banners. I have it and it's AMAZING. You can get it here:
    search for "Adblock"

  4. I am nodding my head to this post. I also can't stand TV, although we do have one in storage somewhere so we can play video games someday again (one of my vices, but also a great cheap date with husband that doesn't require a babysitter). I am also addicted to internet. But I am legally allowed to be addicted, because without it I wouldn't be here -- Tim requires it for work.

    It's funny -- we're also planning what we're going to do to the house we've never seen in four months, and we know that the TV is going in a corner in the basement. But one of our first tasks before arrival will be to get the internet wired throughout the house -- as a necessity for life and employment. Thank goodness for working remotely!