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August 23, 2010

Much has been said in the beginning of the era of home pcs and still today about the benefits of computers and the internet, all that time saved when it comes to writing and editing, researching and connecting .

Everybody talks about social networks, everybody spends time on facebook or twitter, we’re chatting and connecting, we never stop.

We all admit that the sheer possibilities of the net are tempting enough to forget from time to time about our work, our families and that there is actually still a lot to see and explore outdoors, in what is also now called the ‘real life’.

Parents try (often in vain) to limit online times of their kids relating to times – which seem so far away now – where children simply could not seek their entertainment with the help of electronic devices but were found roaming the streets or climbing trees, with their friends, for real and not just via a multiplayer application.

I think it’s a development that can’t be stopped, and we are all ‘connected’ at all times, with more and more sophisticated mobile devices, such as phones, laptops, the ipad, the kindle.. etc…

Fine. So be it. I think it’s up to everybody how much ‘real life’ human interaction they need, and if your life is on facebook, you will find enough people who will live there with you.

What really bothers me though is the time wasted in front of my computer in complete INACTIVITY. Disconnected.

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Of course, internet connections vary greatly according to country, location, provider, device and connection type. I know that. I also know that living in regional Australia, I will have to make do with what I can get for quite a while yet.

What I can get is wifi only, we alternate between a box and a usb key but in the end it’s like a mobile phone connection: When it works fine, all is good. I am happy enough with the speed for the use I make of the internet most of the time. When it does NOT work though, I get frustrated and act really stubborn: I sit and wait. I reconnect. I reboot, either my computer or the wifi box. I want my internet and I want it now.

Something certainly will make it work faster again, or bring back a totally lost connection ?! I won’t give up. If the connection is obviously weak or frequently interrupted, I stay put. Sometimes I will get up while a page loads with prehistoric speed, reminding of the old dial-up speeds. Only websites are much bigger now, because – in theory – all our connections are faster. So I wait even longer. I just want to look up one more thing, download one more illustration, recheck facebook for one last time.

I realize hours later that I could have done something far more efficient or simply vegged it out in front of the tv, because sometimes, the connection just won’t get better. And sitting in front of the pc, will not – I repeat – NOT make any difference.
But you never know! It might all be smooth and dandy in a minute!! …And that minute will last for HOURS.

Tonight was such a night. It is raining outside. It is incredibly late. My internet was crook. I have been working on a different blog (project) and needed graphics and illustrations while writing the entry. I have spent hours waiting for Google Images to reload, reconnected a lot to finish a download of this or that picture. Stupid. Tomorrow would have been fine.

I could have written the posts offline, like I am doing it now and left the graphics for the next day when the internet would have been back to normal. I could have watched 2 movies in that time, read a bit or simply gone to bed earlier. I did not.

While I am secretly envying people who can waste their time on social networks without being permanently disconnected off their net, I am promising myself that next time I’ll be wiser.
But I know I will not.

Everybody talks about the time wasted online while pursuing work unrelated, shallow activities such as connecting with your friends, having cybersex, looking at recipes or craft and watching videos. How much time is wasted staring on a reloading screen, a frozen handheld device in the hope that this new interuption will only be brief and even if it is – how much does this lost time sum up to and take out of our online AND our real life ?? Nobody knows.

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