I am an internet addict. I once used the internet as a tool, but now spending time on the computer visiting the same sites repeatedly has become my primary form of entertainment. Frankly, it’s not very entertaining. I’m not reading books or watching movies the way I did before. So, in order to break out of this bad habit, I’ve made a Lenten vow to cut the time I spend on the internet in half. I’m not counting my work in photoshop, because that’s usually creative. I’m also not reducing the time I spend writing, whether it’s for posts here or messages to friends. These are too important and too satisfying. It’s just not productive to check my visitor stats three times an hour, or twitter or facebook or email or ebay or YouTube. So far, it’s working out okay. I’ve read half a book in the last two days, and I’m even enjoying my time on the computer more than before. I’m hoping that the time I spend away will result in more interesting blog posts, since the quality of what entertains me is reflected here.
I have another confession to make. I spend way too much time on the internet correcting mistakes and submitting complaints. I’m constantly removing my hands from the keyboard and telling myself, “You are not the internet police. This is not your job!” Here’s a good example. Tonight my book club is discussing Willa Cather’s Death Comes For The Archbishop. I got the book out of the library over the summer, kept it for nine weeks, and never got past page fifty. We have a very good rule at book club—you can come if you haven’t read the book, but you can’t join in the discussion. If I don’t go to enjoy the company, not to mention all the wine and snacks, then I’ll just sit at home browsing the internet again. This morning I went to cliffsnotes.com (oh, the horror!) to read the summary in order to follow tonight’s discussion. There was a sloppy error in the synopsis, obvious even to someone who hasn’t read the book, so of course I had to submit a correction to the site. Yesterday I complained to iTunes because I had to enter my credit card number and mailing address just to use the “like” button on an album page. It’s bad enough that you have to waste time downloading an entire software package just to browse their store. Spending less time on the computer will not reduce my urge to correct and complain, but I won’t have as much time to follow through.
I know I need to stay off ebay, but at least I rarely spend money there. I have become fascinated by the selling of cancelled checks as “authenticated autographs.” Seriously. People are auctioning bank checks, either written to or by celebrities. When they’re written to a celebrity, it’s the endorsement on the back that is the valued autograph. Woe to any collector whose favorite celebrity had an accountant that used a rubber stamp! My favorite so far is a check written by Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched) to a Hollywood grocery store in 1974. It is the amount that intrigues me. Back in 1974, you could buy an awful lot of groceries for $560. Was she having a party? Somebody has already purchased this gem, but not to worry. There are two other checks written by Montgomery that are still for sale. I can’t help wondering about the more recent checks, with account numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers on them. They haven’t been blacked out and can be seen clearly in the images posted on the internet. There really isn’t any privacy anymore. Of course, with paypal and online banking, handwritten checks themselves will soon become antiques from another age.
The other night, I tweeted my intention to spend less time on the internet. I woke up to find a whole bunch of new people following me on twitter. Is this supposed to be an affirmation or a temptation?!
Update: I got a friendly note from the webmaster at cliffsnotes.com thanking me for my correction. ITunes sent a customer service survey asking me for my opinion of the response I never received about my complaint!