By Sean Wilkinson
Without a ‘net
Internet access is a foul mistress. She sits around nonchalantly, acting as if she doesn’t care if you stay or go, but as soon as you try to leave her, she sends out a thousand harpies of nagging hopelessness, dragging you back into her expensive pit of connectedness.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit. You have to forgive me: I’m without Internet access this weekend.
It’s one of those things that annoying, random people always talk about in public places: “Ya’ know, you nevah realize how much you use tha internets until it’s not there.” Fuck you for being right, you Celtics jacket-wearing sweaty guy with thinning hair standing in line at the coffee shop.
You see, I moved this weekend. I moved into a big building with a mix of students, professionals, and professional crazy people. I’m trying to offset the cost of moving and figured a large swath of the first two categories of people would have wireless access for me to pilfer at will (while the last category will always be there to satisfy my late night cravings for shrill screams and elevator stories about rehab). I figured I would have several wireless signals to choose from and would have to sit down one night and create some kind of rating system, so I would remember, “Jerry-Porn-69-MSHOME” has a faster megabyte-per-second transfer rate than “Steve-N-Crystal-4-EVA-NET.”
My amusing fantasies were all for naught. My Airport Wireless indicator remains as dead as the two fish I killed while packing my aquarium.
I actually made it through most of the weekend without missing the Internet. I was busy moving, paying a shiftless dude $45 to watch me move (I had to pay for the asshole running the freight elevator), setting up my apartment, and relaxing and enjoying the new place. It was enough to get me through two days without resorting to the boredom killer/creator that is the Internet. But today, I set up my computer to write Cheery Monologues for you, the loyal readers, because I know you’ve missed me during my brief but tortuous hiatus.
My computer is a different machine without the Internet behind it. It’s like hanging out with an old drinking buddy you haven’t seen forever, and you get to the bar prepared for drunken escapades and find out he’s gone on the wagon. I kind of feel bad for noticing there’s something missing. But I can’t hide it. Sorry, computer, but you’re just not as fun anymore.
Once it’s on, that’s pretty much it. Sure, I can still watch DVDs and create documents and do work and all that crap, but I can’t engage in my online rituals. I have to be able to check my e-mail. I have to get online and go through my battery of sites that require daily checking. Got to see what the article of the day is on Wikipedia. Check the bank balance on TDBanknorth. Check up on ex-girlfriends on Myspace. Check the current girlfriend’s blog. And check my own blog to see if there are any new comments (even though there’s a system in place that e-mails me when I get a new comment, but you never know – one might have slipped through the cracks). I have to check my nerdy typography forum and occasionally check in at redsox.com. It goes on and on, and when that gets old, you see who’s online on the instant messenger. And then back to Myspace. (Don’t forget thestranger.com, boingboing.net, youtube.com, and pitchforkmedia.com. And, of course, hourly check-ins at thebollard.com.)
I honestly had a hard time getting to work on real projects tonight because I didn’t have my hour (or three) of procrastinating first. What good is the ability to do work if I don’t have a tool like the Internet to keep me from doing work for hours at a time?
Without the lure of the girls of suicidegirls.com, or the weird experiments of the nerd at cockeyed.com, I run the risk of overwriting and submitting a 10,000-word column. That is, if it weren’t for the fact that I have to walk somewhere to e-mail this. I’m deciding now whether I walk around the halls until I find a wireless signal or just walk to work and send this. They both have their drawbacks. Walking the halls late at night with a laptop could lead to a stabbing. I hate stabbings. Walking to work to get full, high-speed Internet access within three hours of when I want to go to bed could prove to be a real test of will power.
Check The Bollard News Briefs [link removed] for reports of stabbings.