Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In Withdrawal...

I've been on traveling for almost two weeks now, and a good portion of that time I haven't had Internet access available to me on the 24-7 basis I'm accustomed to. I knew I was used to using it, but I never realized quite how many of my daily and monthly errands required extensive use of the Internet. I pay bills online. I've been finishing up grad applications, and many of those have online components which take a lot of time to fill out.

On the more communications-connected front, I've missed having email and IM as an alternative to the phone for contacting some friends. Not to mention the blog-reading I'm behind on.

I suppose it's not that surprising--and even a bit healthy--that I'm a bit out of touch while on vacation visiting others. And realistically, it hasn't been terribly hard to get to places with wireless for a few minutes now and then. But it's certain that I've learned to appreciate once again my full-time Internet at home.

And on the creativity front, I find it interesting how hard it is to do, not the writing itself, but the pitching and printing of the writing without easy access to the usual tools--the Internet and a printer. It's one thing to compose without these things, but it's hard to research markets and send stuff out without them.

Now that I've had a few days with Internet, I'll be back to another week of spotty access before I get back to my standard way of life. And it seems that the potential portability of our errands nowadays, while nice, has a few potential downsides to it. But that's okay--most of my key online errands have been completed now, so all will be well.

It's been nice to get away a bit, but it's usually also nice to get back by the end. That great truth of traveling hasn't changed much with the advent of technology. It just has a technology-related twist to it at times now.

Observation Doesn't Quite Fit Either Hype...

So a few weeks ago I was walking from security to my gate in the Richmond, Virginia airport. As I did, I thought about how different the communication patterns in airports are now from ten years ago. Many more people talking on cell phones. Many more people (I was one of them) listening to iPods. People with laptops.

A critic of technology, I realized, might point out those things in the airport and say they were overly-virtualizing communication. That they were keeping from talking to each other face-to-face. Living in virtual worlds instead of the real world.

But then again, there were still lots of people reading books. Talking to people they were traveling with. But my favorite sight--one that made me smile--was two people who didn't look like they knew each other, yet were talking to each other. Why? It seemed--from a glance, at least--that the reason they had connected was because of the electrical outlets their laptops were plugged into.

It's true that communications media has changed the world to a certain degree. And it's probably unhealthily virtualized some of our relationships. But it's delightful to think that it's unexpectedly also forged face-to-face conversations between strangers.