It's been a week now since our cable Internet/TV was installed, so I thought it would be a good time to report on how we are handling it and how it has affected our journey to simplicity and if it has tempted us to waste time.
I've always chosen to look at the TV and the Internet as two different services, which they are, so I'll have to write about each one individually:
INTERNET: All I can say is WOWEE! I remember a TV commercial for high-speed service that asked the question, "Where do YOU want to go?" My friend Sally says that sometimes she gets online, and decides she really doesn't want to go anywhere and would rather be doing something else, so she logs off. Surprisingly, that has been true for me as well. After all, with music and quilting (I'm working hard, Sarah and Matt!) and everything else in my life, I don't need to be on my home computer to keep me pleasantly occupied. There are some days I check e-mail, check into a couple of transcription sites, and I'm done. But on the days when I do actually want to "go somewhere," my new Internet speed is like taking a plane to Memphis instead of driving. Whoosh!
I pay lots of bills online - what used to take 15 minutes now takes about 1 minute. I can actually send and receive pictures by e-mail. Rachel sent me a video of Caroline getting off the school bus on the first day of kindergarten and I actually got to see it!! Apple notified me that I had updates to my computer, and lo and behold, I didn't have to pack up my computer and take it to one of my kids' homes to use their cable connection in order to download the updates!
I have a software program called Delicious Library for organizing all my books. I haven't been able to use it for a year and a half because when I scan the books' bar codes in, the software looks up Amazon.com for the information, and dial-up wouldn't cut it. Already I've entered 2 shelves of my 5 shelves of quilt books.
Oh, yes, the Internet is even better than I remembered it.
TV: We got high-speed just in time to watch most of the Democratic convention and all of the Republican convention. That was really cool. I still can't get over how clear the picture is after using "rabbit ears" for a year and a half with poor results. I'm watching just a few shows that I used to watch - What Not to Wear on TLC, for instance. But I usually save these shows for my weekend, which is the time period we used to watch our videos together (when I could stay up late).
There is one major shock, though - COMMERCIALS! Have they gotten worse in a year and a half or has it always been this bad? Good grief! It seems like 5 minutes of show followed by 10 minutes of commercials! We've been watching videos for a year and a half without, of course, commercial interruption. It is so annoying to be subject to them again.
So, one week into our experiment into major culture reinitiation, so far, so good. We've still been reading on Teddy Roosevelt's biography together, so we haven't been sucked into a new addicting technologically rich/priority-poor lifestyle. It is our hope that we can stay aware of when we use these technologies so they don't become purely mindless entertainment or unproductive distraction. I hope, if we do see ourselves slide into a downward spiral of wasted time, we will have the guts to cancel the TV part, at least.
I think awareness has everything to do with the journey to simplicity. Being aware of what we are eating, what we are buying, what we are spending time on, how we are impacting the environment - awareness is the key.