Can you imagine a world without internet? Yes, but only because I lived it, and to be without it having lived with it for a long time would be unbearable. I filled time before with renting videos – not dvds – VIDEOS! – and had many membership cards from establishments as far flung as North Hollywood and Melrose Ave. I would watch movies with friends or alone, go out to bars and shows with information scribbled down from the LA Weekly with tickets bought and paid for with phone calls.
Phone calls were constant, and I was a late comer to cell phones, and didn’t get one for a long time and then when I finally got it I almost never turned it on or used it, it just banged around at the bottom of my bag. I knew everyone’s phone number by heart, and I would be able to call my friends from pay phones all over the world with my calling card.
I really talked on the phone a great deal, way more than I can even think about now, and I would not consider myself a chatty person. We just did that. Talked on the phone about what we were going to do later. We made plans from what was written in newspapers and independent weeklies.
Secret shows were a rarity because there wasn’t a timely way to disperse the information. Like I know Prince was famous for doing these secret shows but I never understood how he got people to come. This was before Twitter and before anyone was reliably connected. I actually resisted being part of all of it too at first. When I first heard of the internet I thought – “well that is not going to last.”
Websites and email seemed like a fad, that would soon go the way of 12 inch laser discs and gourmet popcorn bars. There was a gourmet popcorn shoppe across the street from my parent’s bookstore that was opened and closed in such a short time I never even went inside. Yet because of the internet all these things have persevered. You can order any laser disc or bourbon salt caramel popcorn online and they’ll send you an email confirmation and a tracking number and you’ll get it just after you forgot you ordered it so it’ll be a nice treat when it comes.
There were stacks of magazines all over the place. I had them in big glossy piles that collected dust and became defacto tables where coffee cups and notepads and ashtrays would live when the piles became tall and sturdy enough. Once I spilled an entire cup of French press right on top of one of the piles. It was the largest spill of my spilling career. The pages of the magazines rippled wet and warped dry and turned brown and when the days were hotter the room smelled like coffee as of course I never cleaned it up or removed the stacks.
My life now is largely lived on the internet, if I am fully honest and aware and admitting the hours spent here in front of this screen and compare them to the hours I am out in the world – minus the minutes looking up something on my iphone and you also have to subtract the time you drive places using GPS. Then I should probably disclose the torturous tedious time waiting for responses for texts and emails. The only time I am offline would be when I am asleep, I am not counting just in bed, because my Kindle Fire’s wireless is never inactive I don’t care if it drains the battery, and even then I am usually dreaming of what I saw or read or wrote online.
I am not sure if life is better. It’s certainly more informed, as before if you wanted to find something out you had to go to a library or a bookstore and actually go look it up. When you learned of something, there was an urge to remember it. Now I forget everything casually because it can always be retrieved. It’s right there in the palm of my hand.