Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is there such a thing as too much computer time?

Should I worry about how much time I spend in front of my computer screen?

For such a long time I have been tied, fingers first, to the home keys on they keyboard of my PC. I used to write stories, for a living. Now I just write for life. There is blogging, tweeting, and facebooking, not to mention reading and writing emails with friends, family, and even sneaking in a little Words With Friends, or Spider Solitaire now and then. Have I ignored my life as too many days seemingly wither away?

Hell no!

Upon closer examination, withering away fails to describe my reality. I am a better person because of the hours I spend up close and personal with my computer and with it, the people, places, and things that make my life worth living.

What I actually do on a regular basis is revisit and become re-acquainted with friends, from my past and present, as well as make new ones. I am better equipped now to keep up with the politics than I was in the days when I considered myself an activist. I often engage in deep, meaningful conversations with friends and adversaries on topics of the day. I read about things that interest me and some that I discover. I solve problems. I listen to my favorite music. I gather recipes. I commiserate. I learn new things. How can this be bad for me?

It isn't!

As I drift into the autumn of my life, I realize that my mind is probably sharper now than ever before. I'm astonished at all the memories that have come flooding back to me through chats on Facebook with friends and family members that span my entire life. If I do forget something, it is likely something insignificant. I never worry about those things because my best friend Google is always eager to help me out.

I have been a computer user for most of my adult life. I've enjoyed every phase of it. Heck, I remember 5 1/4" floppy disks. The one at the left was the pre-cursor to AOL--Quantum Link. Early online activity which included bulletin boards and other interaction was accessible through our Commodore Computer's C-64. It was very exciting, not to mention very log ago. We got our first computer, a Commodore Vic 20 in the early 1980's.

I remember the innovation that was America Online. It offered the first Internet accessibility to Macs and PC's with the Windows Operating System Bill Gates developed and released in 1985. Signing on to the Internet through AOL dialup which was pretty exciting. Who can forget those often-heard words every time we signed on--the words immortalized through the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie, "You've Got Mail?"

I've had just about every version of Windows Microsoft has ever made. I almost feel like I know Bill Gates personally. I know I have contributed to his wealth, even as dreams of my own have never materialized.

Wealth would be nice, but wealth alone won't make you rich.

I feel I am rich because my life--both real and online--is filled with friends and family with whom I would not want to live without.

I've worn the letters off countless keyboards over the years, and I've owned many different computers from Packard Bell, to a home built model. We have come a long way from that first 4 KB of memory on board the Vic 20. We've transitioned from kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes and finally to terabytes.

I'm glad for the ability to continue riding the technology wave. I'm sure I will enjoy it, wherever it takes me. So, to answer my own question, though much of my life is spent in front of the computer screen, it has been