Tag Archives: Internet

Staying Connected…But At What Cost?

Living in a foreign country, far away from those you love and know best, can be challenging at times, (to put it mildly!) You are experiencing a new culture, seeing new things, meeting new people, perhaps learning a new language or a new job. And you are constantly trying to make a life for yourself where you are, and to feel “at home”.

But with modern technology being as it is, you have no problems to forge a new path while also staying connected to those you’ve left behind. Between the 100 online accounts I now maintain regularly, (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, LinkedIn, Gmail, AIM, Skype, Tango, WhatsApp – I think you get the point…) there is never a shortage of ways to connect. I even have the advantage of having people to talk to both in time zones ahead of my own, and way far behind my own so that it seems at any point in time there is always someone around or available to chat, (including where I am in the present moment.)

We Are All Connected - Great Ad Campaign for WWF Mexico

While I have to say I am beyond grateful for technology, and I will be the first person in the world to congratulate the internet for making my life a million times easier, sometimes I wonder what all this connectivity really costs me in terms of living. Am I staying connected to those I love too much, (if there is such a thing)? To the extent that I can’t actually get on with my life and experience new things? Or is the connectivity a welcome reminder that I am loved and that my people do still exist in the world…just not necessarily here?

It’s hard for me to judge how much being plugged in all the time really holds me back, or in some cases even propels me forward. I admittedly, and a bit embarrassingly, crave Facebook. I seek to learn what is going on in the lives of others, or apparently actively search for a way to uselessly waste hours of my time reading about people who don’t have any real impact on my life. So why, if it is such a black hole of time, do I insist on multiple log-ins a day? Just to see if Jane had a wild night out on Saturday? Or if John’s wife finally had her baby?

What is even more disturbing, is that when I actually log out and leave home I don’t think about Facebook. I’m not running on my treadmill at the gym after work desperate to log back in to see if Lady X put up some life-changing new insights. Once I step outside it, I couldn’t care less what is going on in my virtual life. It’s only when you sit me in front of the computer without any real-life distractions, (i.e. a concert…or brunch,) that I can’t seem to turn the interwebs off. When did life become something to be lived virtually instead of in actuality, and is it preventing us from experiencing the world around us?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the topic. Do you feel too connected? Or does being connected make you feel like you’re living?

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Caught My Attention

I have an addiction. It keeps me up at night. It takes away my concentration during the day. It calls me out of bed earlier in the morning than I generally care to rise.

I am Amanda. And I am a Computeraholic.

I sit at my desk all day in front of the machine writing, or reading, or surfing, or learning, or doing – all on my computer. Then I get home, and as though we have spent years apart on my 20 minute commute home, I throw myself onto the couch, open up the bright and happy interface, and spend hours endlessly looking at it. Reading what I can, searching for things I don’t know, talking to people I don’t even have time to miss because they are always right there in front of me. On my computer.

I find myself crawling into bed at night only to think to myself, “What if I have the urge to write?” or “What if I can’t sleep right away and have to spend ten whole minutes lying in bed with my eyes closed?” quickly followed by, “Maybe I should bring my computer with me…just in case”

To further prove this to you, I have just entered my bedroom and had the hopeful thought that perhaps I would go to bed early, (it is only 9 PM after all,) and just as I was about to settle down I thought, well maybe even though I spent the last 3 hours staring at nothing in particular, maybe now the inspiration to write will hit.

And here we are…

When WiFi goes bad

Traveling means not always knowing when you will have a connection to the Internet or not. The lucky thing about having a permanent office or home is that you always know the next time you’ll be able to jump online to check a few things out, or to talk to your friends. The problem with staying in someone else’s apartment (particularly when their Internet contract has run out for the year and if you want to stay connected it’s up to you to let the cable guy in to re-boot the system,) is that you just never know if the connection will be good or not.

When I first arrived in Berlin, I was lucky enough to have negotiated free WiFi with my hotel and had 2 weeks of great service. Of course, every night at about 10 pm I had to restart the connection for a 24-hour period, but it was reliable enough to keep me connected. The next apartment I went to had said there was WiFi in the apartment, but I later learned it was really stolen from the café downstairs, or the language school across the street. Not only was the connection shaky, but every time a tram passed by (every 5-10 minutes) the connection cut out. So much for long Skype calls, downloading music, or reading my e-mails.

I was grateful to have found a sublet for May where WiFi was included in the rent, only this time it was included in the apartment…meaning the person who I am subletting from actually pays for their connection. At last I would have a reliable connection to talk to my loved ones on my own time, and not just on office time, (which at 6 hours ahead is challenging enough to do.) Only when I arrived at the apartment did I discover that in fact the Internet was not working, and a service man would not be able to come fix it for a week and a half.

Needless to say I have been feeling out of touch with friends and family, as I no longer have those key hours between work and sleep to catch up on anything and everything…not that so much has happened and I’m missing out beyond reason, but keep in mind a stable Internet connection gives me TV (thanks to SlingBox), a free phone (Gtalk), the ability to blog about life (see current posting), and endless hours of messaging back and forth with the people I miss most!

It’s a bit sad to admit that I am so dependent on the Internet, but ever since I first logged on to CrazyKat28 on AOL back in 1995, I’ve been hooked and there is simply no turning back! So for now, I will subsist on the limited hours of connectivity I can take advantage of for personal use until a more stable connection comes my way.

Stay Connected.