Plugged in

I spend a lot of time on the computer– substantially more than I’d like, actually. Here I am, sitting at the computer for the third hour in a row this evening, writing on the computer about how I need to get off the computer. Ha. It always seems like there is a good reason. Tonight, I’ve been working a lot on chapbook business. Plus, I’ve added a few new friends on Facebook, commented on some photos of people I knew back in high school, and tweeted about how much rain we got tonight. My eyes have that pinched, teary feeling they get after lots of one-dimensional electronic exposure. I’ve been trying to keep my posture impeccably straight to make up for how long I’ve been sitting still.

Teaching online classes requires me to log into the computer at least once a day, and to spend a fair amount of time grading assignments on a screen. However, I know my love affair with the computer won’t end when I stop teaching online in June. In a way, I’m grateful for this virtual life. Before Facebook, for instance, many relationships seemed distinctly time-sensitive, relegated to a certain period in life that would inevitably pass and be remembered fondly and with some yearning when it was over. Now, all of those relationships are thrust back into the present. Is the connection somehow false, because it’s initially so superficial? I don’t know. I do know that I prefer it to the alternative, which would just be wondering– what ever happened to so-and-so? When I go to Germany, Facebook will allow me to feel like I am actually there with my friends when they go to the beach or run the Detroit Marathon. The illusion of physical closeness goes a long way when you’re lonesome.

Still, too much social networking and not enough face-to-face networking, or nature networking, or just sitting quietly without feeling the urge to tweet something networking, seems vaguely damaging. Maybe a study will come out in a few decades showing the disastrous effects of two or more hours per day on the computer. I guess by then I’ll already have optical tethers growing out of my fingertips, gluing me to the keyboard. Help!

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