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Saturday, Jun. 15, 2002
I'm about the last person on earth you'd suspect to be an online junkie.

Online Junkie being defined as "one who spends a couple hours a day parked in front of a cathode ray tube connected via telephone wire to the creeping madness of the world". Just to set the record straight, you know.

I questioned, nay, even berated myself when I first purchased a computer back in the mid-80's (386-SX! 20 megs of ram! State of the art!). I remember standing in the computer store writing out a check and wondering "what in hell are you doing this for". Because, you see, I was the very embodiment of the old coot who you might see spitting tobacco over a rail and grunting something about 'dang computers' and all that.

Computers, online worlds. Sheesh. Did life actually exist before them? Just what in the world did we do with our time before they came along? I have only to wander into my den and see a thousand books lined up on shelves to know a partial answer. I can go outside and see my sorghum field (which others might refer to as a lawn) and weed gardens and have a clue.

I resist change. I fight it and am dragged along by the heels into a changing world. I hate the craving for speed, for things to be done as instantly as the keys can be pushed and the mouse can be twirled. That evil minions can send me a fax or email and expect my compliance within minutes of its' transmission speaks volumes for the lack of patience we have all grown into. It's a lack of compassion too, because compassion gets tossed aside when you're in a hurry.

I want things to be done more slowly, with a little more care. And maybe that's why I don't mind the one particular thing which online worlds afford me. The chance to read at leisure, sometimes diaries, sometimes not. I just can't justify this all-encompassing need to change/work/build at warp speed that the modern world demands. Or how machines have taken over.

Take yesterday, for example. I dial up a construction guy at his office and go immediately into a voice mail system. Now, I know this guy, and I know his office. We're not talking about General Motors here. This is a building staffed by maybe a dozen people. How is it that they are all too damn busy to pick up the phone and say hello and maybe find the one guy I'm looking for? Instead, you get to suffer through an array of button punching quests to ring the phone at the guy's desk only to have it ring into his personal voice mail. So he can return the call at his leisure, I guess.

How incredibly rude that is. And I told him so, when I finally got hold of him. "Look, Mike. I'm not so na´ve to think that my bitching will cause you to disconnect your system and put a human being in charge of answering your phone, but my lord, man. Did you ever consider how it makes you look? Like your time is so invaluable that the very act of speaking to someone must be on your terms?"

He didn't get it. He's young and has grown up with this way of communicating, this insulating of oneself. Putting machines to work to do the communicating for you. It's not a good thing. And the funny thing is that it didn't save anybody any time, that phone call. It didn't streamline the act of conversation, it didn't route my telephone call any more efficiently than any 16 year old phone clerk might have done.

"But Outfoxed", you say. "Think of how things used to be. People had to wait on hold, the phone clerk might actually have to haul his/her ass out of the chair and around the building looking for the guy, get him on the phone, or worse, take a hand written message. You'd be on hold, Outfoxed, waiting and waiting."

Hell, I don't mind waiting. Even if I'm on hold. I have a mind, I can do all sorts of interesting mental gymnastics while waiting. Worse comes to worse, I'll just close my eyes and drift off to the Bahamas for a while.

I was raving about this to Stu yesterday and he just sort of rolled his eyes and observed "Oh geez, you're at it again. Mr. Computer Guy meets the modern world and doesn't like it. Ain't it just awful?"

Yeah, I'm a hypocrite. Dang computers. Makes me want to chaw some Red Man and sit on a fence rail for a spell. Or drink a beer. Something that can't be rushed.

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