Years ago when I was first introduced to the Internet, I remarked that “the world will no longer be divided between the haves and the have nots, but will be separated into the knows and know nots.” I failed to take into account that much of the knowledge consumed online would do little to make one knowledgeable. I also failed to anticipate the addictive nature of our online connections. I can’t remember the last time I spent 24 hours away from my online security blanket.
There was a time in my life when it was considered cool to separate oneself from modern technology. I had friends in New York and San Francisco who were proud that their homes housed no television. Today, many of us have no associates that do not have iTunes or Facebook accounts. I am among those who do more shopping via Amazon and eBay than at Macy’s or Nordstrom. While I no longer count myself among the smug hipsters that dress in skinny jeans and drink skinny lattes, I can understand the need to check in with friends and family across the globe on a daily basis.
Every week I encourage people to get out of their homes and visit an AKC dog show. I still believe that there is no substitute for face-to-face contact with people who share your passions. It is an exercise that will bring more health benefits than a month on a vegan diet. However, I also write for a substantial audience that is housebound by age, location or family obligation. For those people, an online connection is a lifeline that keeps them attached to a world that has left them on the roadside.
Today I took my 80-year-old mother to buy a replacement computer for the one she lost in a recent burglary. My mother is a woman of limited education and boundless intellect. She has been widowed for more than 20 years, lives alone, and rarely ventures out of her home. Unfortunately, she has outlived all her siblings and contemporaries. However, her computer had allowed her to make new friends. She has played chess with masters and bridge with Omar Sharif. She also had built up a pretty good nest egg on PokerStars before the FBI intervened.
In the short time she had been without her computer, she had become extremely forgetful, distracted and depressed. Her normally brittle temperament had become downright nasty. Now that she is back on the sofa with her computer on her lap, we hope that she will rebound. Unfortunately, I can never hope to get her to a dog show where lovely-mannered octogenarians are commonplace. That’s one of the advantages of living with a dog. And that’s today’s Back Story.