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20 February 2010

Internet Vacation LT and I have just moved into a brand new apartment and we have had no internet there for almost a week.[More:]I am finding it incredibly restful, a throwback to life before being connected 24-7. I don't feel that addictive pull to go sit idly clicking in search of amusement while the hours of my life tick away. We have been doing things like sitting in a room with books and reading, and walking around our new town.

I do miss the social activity and kibitzing with all of you daily, but it's amazing to feel like I live in my actual life a little more than I normally do. And it's a little frustrating in that I now do so much online - all my banking, community projects, etc. But it's been peaceful.

We made a deliberate decision to put our computer station upstairs in an out-of-the way office/guestroom space, so we won't be able to fall on it lamely as soon as we get home. It will have to be intentional to go and use it.

But we love the new apartment!
Oh my, it's like pioneer country! Plz to hike through the prairie snow into town to send a telegraph, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Glad you're liking the new place!
posted by Elsa 20 February | 11:05
This is interesting. While my wife and I share a car, and would never have it any other way, we are segueing to having our own laptops, after getting rid of the desktop.

We know a couple in the bay area that spends their evenings, sitting together with their respective macbooks, surfing or whatever, and idly talking. They seem very content and happy. I doubt that wife and I will ever do this though.
posted by danf 20 February | 12:35
I often think I should do the same; more and more I'm finding myself with my eyes strained because I spend basically 85% of my waking hours online.
posted by Stewriffic 20 February | 13:18
I was just wondering where you both went.
posted by Obscure Reference 20 February | 13:33
My wife and I sit together with our laptops almost every night. Sometimes we IM each other from across the living room. And what's this "sharing a computer" thing? I'm pretty sure that I'd share a toothbrush before I'd share my laptop and I'm certain that my wife would agree.
posted by octothorpe 20 February | 17:14
Your apartment has an upstairs? Sweet.
posted by JanetLand 20 February | 17:35
I've begun to wonder if BitterOldPunk and elizarde would remember how to communicate if Twitter disappeared.
posted by BoringPostcards 20 February | 17:40
I agree with this "No sharing computers in a relationship" thing, mostly because an ex who lived with me while looking for work used my computer to look at porn and somehow got the computer corrupted by viruses. I was more upset about the viruses than I was about the porn.
posted by TrishaLynn 20 February | 17:53
A long internet vacation sounds simultaneously nice and horrifying. I have a friend who unplugs his connection for at least one day out of every weekend, and he swears it keeps him saner. I'm not quite there yet.

As for sharing computers, my partner and I tried it for a long time, but it eventually caused a lot of ridiculous arguments, like:

"I want to look at porn!"

"But I want to look at youtube!"

"But I also want to check my bank statement -- isn't that more important than youtube!?"

"You just said you want to look at porn! Now it's a bank statement!?"

And so on. Ugly stuff. Two computers are definitely the way to go.
posted by treepour 20 February | 20:38
We share a laptop here, and it works pretty well. We've had to adjust to each other's predictable demands (my periodic essays with deadlines, his weekly newsletter, and the like) but also to be flexible and understanding with each other's whims or emergencies.

OF course, the need to be patient and understanding applies to more than just computer use. In our case, it's healthy to have such a small, well-defined arena in which to practice it.
posted by Elsa 20 February | 21:05
Your apartment has an upstairs? Sweet.

It totally is sweet! Unless you're carrying furniture up to the top. Oy!
posted by Eideteker 20 February | 21:09
I've had to turn off my computer during the day so I can focus.
posted by brujita 21 February | 03:40
My wife and I sit together with our laptops almost every night. Sometimes we IM each other from across the living room.
Sounds like our place. Sometimes we send each other messages on facebook while sharing the couch.

I try to stay off-line when away from home to at least get some semblance of balance, but the lure of the omnipresent iPhone makes it hard.
posted by dg 21 February | 06:01
We don't seem to have many problems at all sharing a computer, apart from queuing for our respective turns and making sure there's enough storage for his Alexandria-like library of music files. LT used to have a laptop but the motherboard died, so we're sharing until one of us gets a laptop. I might get one for work purposes.

The thing is, I spend most of the day staring at a computer screen and answering email. The older I get, and the more of my life I feel I'm missing, the less I want to stare at a screen in my off hours too. It's a great way to relax, but there are also a lot of other things I love to do to relax - read books and magazines and newspapers, sew, do projects, be outside, run and ride a bike, go out. In recent years I'm finding that I seem to spend less time doing those things, which almost always make me feel satisfied afterward, and more and more time goofing around on the internet - and so often, after 2-3 hours of surfing, I really couldn't call the way I feel satisfied. Once the screen shuts down, it's like I sort of 'wake up' and am surprised to find how much time has gone by and how little I feel that time rewarded me. Not always, but often enough. I suspect that I use the 'net as an avoidance mechanism far too much. During this week I've felt completely awake and fully present in a way I don't usually feel unless I'm actually on vacation somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, once it gets hooked up tomorrow I'll be happy to use it. But I'm starting to think about a per-session time limit, or a one-day-a-week internet Sabbath, too.
posted by Miko 21 February | 13:40
I didn't have teevee for quite a while after I moved, and I'm kind of sorry I have it now. I read a lot more, and got more done. Internet, however, was hooked up shortly after there was electricity. The thought of... no internets... gives me the shakes.
posted by theora55 21 February | 14:01
We haven't had broadcast TV for a few years now. We only watch TV and movies on DVD, which is usually pretty satisfactory... but lately I've been hankering for plain old broadcast TV, the kind you can click on at random.
posted by Elsa 21 February | 14:41
You know Elsa, I really love broadcast tv. Internet tv seems more stressful to me. You have to pick what you want to see, and if the thing you're watching isn't AWESOME, it's your fault because you could have looked longer or harder and found something AWESOME. It's out there somewhere, after all. With broadcast tv, you're stuck with whatever the channels that you have are showing at the time. I like that. A couple weeks ago I watched a whole PBS show about growing moss because it was the only thing on.

That being said, I'm totally getting an iPad so I no longer have to surf the 'net in a sitting position only.
posted by halonine 21 February | 14:56
You have to pick what you want to see


Sometimes I do want to engage in a thoughtful choice, but there really are times when I just want to treat TV like mental chewing gum: I just want something random there in the background, something not-great to listen to while I unwind into a pile of numbness. (I'm not saying this is remotely healthy, just that I want it.)

And I can't do that with DVDs or internet TV. There is no flipping through, no random selection. I have to CHOOSE SOMETHING and SEEK IT OUT. It's so... intentional.

I also miss the serendipity of broadcast TV. One thing I remember fondly from my childhood, before even VCRs: every so often, late at night, you'd flip through the three or four or five channels and discover that, say, The Maltese Falcon was just starting... and you'd go wake up your brothers and sisters, because, hey, how often do they run The Maltese Falcon on TV?

I admit happily that I love love love that I can have my own copy of The Maltese Falcon to watch whenever I like... but the childhood experience I describe is gone, traded off for something else.
posted by Elsa 21 February | 15:06
Aaaaand I just realized what my own solution should be. My partner works in a video store, one of those fantastic boutique shops with a ridiculously extensive selection of movies, TV, and documentaries. I should just ask him to bring me a random TV show every night for a week.

Ta-da! Random!
posted by Elsa 21 February | 15:10
My public library has a 5-DVD checkout limit. And we have a lot of patrons who just come in, a couple times a week, and pick up the first five things on the shelf that grab them.

Some of my more techy pals use Netflix on-demand more or less the same way.

I guess my point is that the serendipity is still around--if anything, there might be more of it than before.
posted by box 21 February | 15:38
You're right, box, and I should have been clearer: I meant that the particular experience I described is gone, and that we've traded it off for a much more media-rich environment.
posted by Elsa 21 February | 15:47
We don't have regular TV any more either. it's been a few years. There are only two times I miss it: (1) when something big is happening, like an inauguration or big giant sports game or awards ceremony. Yeah, you can sometimes livestream those things, but it's a pain in the butt finding a good place to livestream all the different stuff, and then sometimes the stream is choppy on my computer. (2) Exactly what Elsa describes - when you really want the trancelike experience of distraction and low-demand entertainment. Even though I occasionally miss the kind of R&R that TV gives, I'm ok dealing without it, since I know that if I had regular access to it I'd just succumb to the slack-jawed default of popping the thing on whenever I'm home, even when there are things I'd be happier to do. It's too seductive for me.

Also, the thing with TV is it's a firehose delivery mechanism. There are terrific things in there that are definitely true gems of entertainment. But you can't just dip in for those refreshing sips - you have to be blasted with the whole, full-force thing, advertising noise and weird imagery and corporate-driven desperation of it all, in order to spend time with the good stuff.

We do the Netflix/Hulu thing for watchables. Excitingly, our new library is only blocks away and has tons and tons of DVDs. I do miss the serendipitous nature of TV, which of course is how I first came across It's a Wonderful Life and Iowa State Fair and the series Family and all kinds of other good stuff. But you can use the library to randomize too, like box says. The other night I rented Judy Garland and Gene Kelly's Summer Stock: oh, wow. I don't know that I'd have discovered that otherwise.
posted by Miko 22 February | 09:06
I will never, ever miss television.

The only thing it's good for is the Academy Awards. And baseball. But only Red Sox baseball, and even then, any bar in town beats it like a rented mule.

posted by Lipstick Thespian 22 February | 17:18
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