I have been using the same 13-inch MacBook since August 2007. My parents gave it to me as my college graduation present, and I brought it to grad school with me.
With this computer, I started Too Shy to Stop, completed a full-length thesis project, and kept in touch with all my loved ones.
I love my MacBook, but 13 inches is just too small. I spend way too much time working on a computer to not have a large, clean workspace. So I got a new computer.
I really wanted another Mac, mostly to be consistent, but the Mac desktops are overpriced/not right for me. Instead, my friend Jarad helped me build (built) my new computer with parts we chose together from NewEgg.com. I’m running Windows XP (kind of old, but it does the job). You can view the parts on my public wish list.
This is the first post that I writing with my new computer, and I’m in digital heaven. I have so much space on the screen to edit my photos and text. I’m so excited to get more work done now that I have a beautiful workspace.
But I’m also thinking about the negative aspects of having a new computer. More time with my face in a screen? More time browsing my favorite websites and checking my Facebook newsfeed? Less time in the world, interacting with people, and living life.
My brother, who was home from college this weekend, made a really good point. He thinks that social media actually ruins democracy because leaders who use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. can spend lots of time writing about their opinions and plans without actually accomplishing anything. The more time we spend reading these things on the computer, the more we actually believe that changes are being made, that our lives are improving.
In reality, we are being bombarded with so many messages that we start to think they’re all real and true.
On Friday night, another friend ranted about text-messaging and the way it interferes with face-to-face relationships. He actually broke up with a girl because she couldn’t put her phone away when they were together. “We’re so busy trying to stay in touch with people virtually,” he said. “People don’t pay attention to what’s right in front of their faces.”
We start to believe that we can get everything we need digitally. Got Internet access? You have the world at your fingertips. Need love? Check out Match.com or E-Harmony. Need an apartment? Visit Craigslist. Need a job? Browse Monster.com.
When I moved back home after finishing school in May, I decided to try Match.com for a month. I hadn’t lived in New Jersey for a while and wanted to date. I thought it would be nice to have a local relationship with someone after living a nomadic lifestyle for six years.
I did find a great guy on Match, but I learned that living in the same place is not good enough to have a serious relationship with someone. When it didn’t work out, I was tempted to sign up for another month of Match – dating around would help me forget about him more quickly, right? I could drown my sorrows in e-mails from strangers looking for love.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had so much in front of me that I was ignoring: friends who I didn’t see as often because I was dating, projects I was neglecting. My month on Match was an interesting experience, but I need to focus on other things like building my career and pursuing my dreams.
What are you not seeing because the monitor is so close to your face? With a new computer comes new responsibility: making sure I spend enough time in the world.