I suppose there's no doubt about it. I'm just a computer geek. It's not so much that I'm obsessed with computers. After all, I don't know how to do any programming. I certainly don't know how to take apart my computer, and I would know even less about putting it back together again. Nevertheless, I'm still a geek. As grumpy as I sometimes get with computers and the Internet, I'm not sure I could survive without them.
To be honest, I'm not sure how I survived before signing up for a cable modem, never mind before I owned a computer. Last year, I wouldn't even move to a nearby town primarily because that town didn't have high speed Internet access. How sad is that? Wait. Don't answer that. I don't want to know.
Like many, I love e-mail and the web. But how about this? I haven't listened regularly to a local radio station for over two years. Instead, I use Real Player to listen online to KCRW, a wonderfully eclectic NPR/music station from Los Angeles. In fact, I'm listening to it right now, although here in Massachusetts I live about as far from their radio tower as one can get and still stay inside the country. KCRW is a public radio station, and I've donated money to them for the past three years. I must have been one of the first ever NPR supporters to live 3,000 miles away from the station he supported. When I had to give my address to one of the pledge drive volunteers, he practically fainted.
You want another example? Well, I'm an avid Boston Red Sox fan, but seldom do you find me in front of the television for a game. You guessed it. I am usually at my computer with an ESPN.com applet showing me all the details of the game. This way, I can easily work at my computer, while checking the game status every few minutes (or seconds). I can keep track of everything from balls and strikes to Nomar Garciaparra's batting average. It's a shame that the Internet couldn't also do something to help the Red Sox win a World Series. But still, thanks to the net, I have found a way to satisfy two addictions (baseball and computers) simultaneously, when in the past I would have only been able to satisfy one. Talk about progress.
Of course, I didn't always feel this way. A few years ago, the idea of e-commerce made no sense to me at all. When my father, a stockbroker, asked me what I thought about Amazon.com, I merely shrugged. "Why would anyone want to buy a book online when they can just go to the bookstore?" I asked. Thankfully, he didn't listen to me, as the stock became one of the biggest winners on Wall Street (at least until recently).
These days, I've changed my tune on Amazon and all the other e-tailers (not to be confused with e-tailors who can no doubt do all your tailoring online.) Sure, I could walk down the street to some store, but often I just find myself logging on. I especially like using the net to buy gifts for out-of-town friends. In the past, my gift giving would be an arduous two-step process.
And often, there would be a perilously long delay (weeks, sometimes months) between the two. Now, I just tell Whatever Dot Com to send the gift immediately to my friend with a personalized message like, "Imagine! A gift from me on time! Love Joe."
Luckily, with the Internet, there are no closing times and no boundaries either. Last Christmas, when I forgot to buy a gift for my friend in London until the last minute, I simply surfed over to the British version of Amazon and used my credit card to buy her a CD in British pounds. The gift arrived on time, and I even saved on the shipping fee I would have had to pay to mail it from the U.S. to London.
My roommate, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Kozmo.com, an Internet company that will deliver movies to your doorstep for about the same as it costs to rent a movie at Blockbuster. How do they plan to make a profit? Who cares? Just be sure to bring some Pringles along with my DVD, please.
With all my computer time, sometimes I wonder whether I have an addiction, but I'm really not worried about it. That's because I recently stumbled upon www.netaddiction.com. There, a Dr. Kimberly Young offers a variety of services to help treat those with an online addiction. There's even a virtual clinic where you can be treated through e-mail ($35) or in a chat room ($89 for 50 minutes). Yes, that's right. If ever I feel that I can't control my computer time, all I have to do is visit netaddiction.com and have my online addiction treated ... online.
Seriously, is the Internet great or what?
|Copyright 2000 by Joe Lavin
Joe Lavin's Humor Column is published every Tuesday at: http://joelavin.com
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Submitted By: Joe Lavin
Oct 13, 2000 13:49