It’s official, my laptop has suffered a total motherboard failure, and is somewhere in the skies above America awaiting a new brain. I haven’t had it since Thursday, and won’t get it back before Tuesday, which for me and my job, is a little like sending a hockey player onto the rink with Speedos and no stick. At first, I went through the usual withdrawal – where is, what am I, how’m I supposed to – but it was gradually replaced with… relief.
I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to truly UNPLUG recently, but if you can do it without anxiety, it’s really worth it. I know the concept of breaking the electronic tether makes me sound like one of those smelly dudes who absolutely swear their lives were changed by a series of barium enemas, but it’s amazing what returning to the physical world feels like by Day 3.
I’m a bit loath to admit this, but I think it’s representative of a direction I’ve been taking for a while. I’m beginning to lose faith in what “The Internet” seemed to promise us. I am organically losing interest in Facebook, constantly forgetting to check Twitter, fallen out of all the message boards I used to frequent, and only really care to hear what you folks have to say here on the blog (even though the summer has certainly quieted these fields as well).
This is not the fault of social media, or even a “failed promise” of technology, it’s just a creeping feeling that my friends and peer group may be bumping its collective heads against the limitations of what these things can provide. In essence, it all comes back to the tangible world, your physical community, back to analog.
Lately I’ve found succor in deeply analog things. I have become enrapt with gardening, especially with Lucy, where we try to grow weird things that require dirt experimentation. I have been building a lot of crazy shit (pictures forthcoming, you know, when I have a computer) with wood and machinery. I’ve been playing music on guitars with steel and nickel strings that require callouses and tuning. And I’ve been communing with old friends in person, seeing the way their eyebrows arch, their teeth, their unconscious tics and sudden bursts of hilarious inspiration.
In more pedestrian terms, I have found myself giving up on my well-documented wireless fetish and going back to cables. I spent a while at the farm rehabbing an old rotary-dial phone for upstairs, and even our internet in California is looking like this:
Yes, that’s a shitload of cables going to all parts of the house. It might seem ironic that a bird’s nest of Cat-6 ethernet cables is actually a step backwards, but it’s a rejection of even the newest wireless technology that gives us constantly shitty transfer speeds. I rarely use the wireless in the house anymore. Hell, I’m writing this blog on the computer we (sorta) left in Lucy’s room, an ancient laptop that doesn’t have any programs on it except Text Edit, powered by tiny hamsters.
I know I won’t always feel like this – I’m enough of a self-conscious flake to realize my little epiphanies rarely make it past the 3-month mark. But I can’t deny what I’m feeling right now. I love not checking Google News and seeing the latest unfathomable atrocities around the world. I love not knowing what cynical bullshit Republicans are trying to foist on America. I regard all cell phone calls and texts with suspicion, and being shielded from email feels like I’m back on my red Huffy bike again, with the whole neighborhood at my disposal.
Break out the carrier pigeons and telegrams, settle in for a long night on the porch discussing philosophy and sports, put on an album that you have to turn over after four songs. Is it possible to have an analog summer?