Our internet was down for a WHOLE WEEK, and I was so damn efficient it was UNREAL!
To quote John Mulaney, “And when we went back…holy shit…”
Whenever my body is in motion its desire it wants to continue moving, and whenever I rest I want to keep resting. Is Newton’s first law in effect, or is it the fear of missing out that attracts me to the sparkly, glowing screen?
I was definitely happier on sabbatical. There was no toxic comparison, no sad realization of “what are my friends doing without me?” I briefly did go on Instagram twice, but my husband had to be home for some bizarre tech data transfer thing that my reptilian brain doesn’t comprehend.* Even then it was right before I lost consciousness and involved zero political conversations or aggravating opinions. Just glorious, filter happy glimpses at the lives of those I love along with all the gemstone accounts I follow–I have a possibly unhealthy obsession with crystals.
That week I watched DVDs, used my two companion dictionary/thesauruses (that I haven’t picked up since 1997 when I was an A+ English student and WriteSource2000 enthusiast), wrote, painted, decluttered, decorated, and organized. I rented Soundbreaking, the PBS documentary series, from the library–and my husband actually freaked out when he found out that I had started episode three WITHOUT him.**
Using DVDs was its own gleeful experience. We’re always vacillating between “we don’t need these” and the extreme sentimental outcry at the idea of purging our collection. “What if the internet stops working? What if the apocalypse happens yet electricity remains functional?” The second one is always me in typical catastrophizing mania, but my husband never reminds me how absurd I sound. SO IT’S OBVIOUSLY A THING THAT COULD MAYBE HAPPEN.
This nostalgia of simplicity settled over our home–no video games before bed, no liking/commenting/emoji reactions.
All of this probably relates to our decision to buy a record player and “invest” in a record collection.
Have you ever noticed how in film and television, humans use record players more often than nearly any other device? Is it because the music was better? Is it the visual intensity and beauty? Is it that sound mixing had hit a peak where musicians could create groundbreaking music since the studio had the ability to make albums like never before?
Obviously, Soundbreaking is influential, but I feel that it’s not any of those. It’s the perfect blend of listener and LP. It’s an intimate relationship. Vinyl demands care like no other format. Meticulous cleaning, proper storage, the act of flipping it over. The irritating fact that you cannot skip songs, you either have to halt the flow by adjusting the needle and disrupting the magic or let it be until the record plays through. That last one means you have to think a lot harder about which albums are really, really worth owning.
My dad, ever accepting of any advance of innovation, sees this hobby as insanity. He was the first to own a DVD player, and always buys the newest phone as soon as the previous version becomes obsolete. But since this is not a shared opinion, he finds other ways to persuade.
“It has limited practicality,” he states on the couch across from it, eyes narrowed. “You can’t listen to a record in the car. You can’t take it with you and play it at a coffee shop. You are forced to stay home.” There’s almost a Green Eggs and Ham rhythm to his reasoning.
“That’s true,” I acknowledge, “but we like our house. I like to put on a record while I do housework.”
My rebuttal captures the permanence and pride of being a homeowner along with the heel-digging of anyone who’s committed to a decision by time and finances (especially that of child vs. parent debate). We’re locked into a long-term dwelling so we need to stand by this decision and enhance its appeal.
Records also keep me in the moment. Watching them turn, listening to the pops the split second before the melody begins when the house is otherwise silent is meditative.
But we do have internet access again, so the task at hand is how to use it without procrastinating and abusing that power. At this point, I have no solution besides limiting my time and pinpointing the moments when I’m just aimlessly scrolling and searching for something the internet cannot provide–meaning.
So wish me luck, dear readers, that I will be able to balance the web against the physical, real world without giving in to the numbness of the easy thing.
*This is not a gender issue–my family is at opposite ends of the Technology War. Half still live in caves and do not communicate with the outside world except on rare occasion, and the other have microchips in their brains and are the featured humans in every episode of Black Mirror. Also, I’m not caught up on the most recent season, so none of you ruin this for me!!
**He’s not the tv zealot I am, so I often skip ahead without him, and it rarely upsets him.