The sky was overcast today, the clouds like a wet, gray cloth waiting to be wrung out on our heads. It was also cold and unnecessarily so; one can accept a certain amount of rain in early summer, and even welcome it. But the trade off should be that it's warm outside.
Nevertheless, I took a walk to the store and the Canada Post box, daring the rains to come. (Not everyone can be so courageous!) I was restless for most of the morning, making it difficult to stick to the travel narratives I'm reading. There comes a point in which everything you're studying feels like common knowledge because you're so familiar with it. Will I really need to tell the reader about the Elgin marbles? Unfortunately, you can't assume that anything is common knowledge anymore.
I was also restless, admittedly, because I avoided today my inveterate habit of logging on to see what was happening in the "world", or at least what's new in the online gossip network. I read the usual websites daily much like my grandfather read the morning paper. The only difference being that these daily papers update are replenished throughout the day, and there's no end to this paper.
This I think is the first problem I have with the Internet: it has no endpoint. Logging on to check email leads to visits to the usual sites and back and forth, trying to find some logical point to stop. Even if I only spend an hour online, it was more than I had planned.
The second problem I have is that I simply have to change a habit. This is doubly hard: first in that I have to learn to do something new, and secondly in that I have to remove the stability of the old habit from my life. A habit provides one with regularity and the sense that things are unchanging. Therefore, a habit is the performance of stability. Habits give the sense that time has stopped somehow, a relief for humans, who are stuck with an expiration date that is always approaching.
I don't believe logging on is the problem- it's the logging off. An alcoholic friend often jokes that her problem isn't with drinking; it's with stopping once she's drinking. I quite like the Internet for about thirty minutes per day. The problem- and I think this is quite common- is that I linger too long online. I'm now training myself to stick to the thirty minutes.
Also, having a finite lifespan, and currently reading Proust's classic novel of a life spent in idle pursuits, I'm a bit worried about spending my youth on Youtube. In an interesting article (online natch), Benjamin Kunkel writes: "I can't claim that my life is any richer since I got a high-speed internet connection" My neither. A bit more crowded, rushed, and therefore making me less patient; but no richer.
It's not poorer either. At least, I hope not. But, remembering my life before the net, I recall often being bored and coming up with creative ways to pass the time. I'd wander through places I'd never been, write stories, start conversations with strangers. Now, I log on. I think I might like to be bored again.