The majority of my time, outside of school and work, consists of this very screen. Whether it was my first desktop—the shiny Compaq that I had for freshman year of college. Or the desktop that I upgraded to, built with components, sort of on my own. Or the subsequent Apple laptops—first the 12″ Powerbook, then all the small Macbook Pros. All my time that was spent idling was spent here in front of a screen. When I first was looking for a room share in San Francisco, I wrote brazenly in my introduction email through Craigslist that I was a good, quiet roommate—”I like to spend most of my time with my laptop!”
I didn’t receive any requests for emails with that line.
At one of my first jobs at a design consultancy, an older colleague, fascinated with the behavior of young people (before the term millenials filled the national lexicon) asked me what I did with my free time. I was one of the youngest employees at the design consultancy—just 3 years out of college, 1 year out of graduate school. I was puzzled. “Go home, chat with friends online, then browse the internet, then chat with friends online, and again and again,” I said.
“How do you have time for that?”
“It’s what I do.”
He marveled at my generation.
But what I know now—a decade later—is that I had a lot of free time. But even more so, the words that I typed online—whether it in an instant message or blog—was my way of spending my time in the world. To figure out my life’s messes. To better myself. To explore and learn. To be more. To make myself feel better. To let out the angst, complain, rant, show off, pride.
Now though, it’s the after. I am partially troubled by the goal, more like the habit, that I had set for myself when I was young.
Write every day in this blog, because it’s what you do.
The after is different what I had imagined. My angst, my desire to better myself, my yearning to express is all replaced by this simple desire to spend time with Chris.
In reflecting on that, is it because all the things that I had been seeking on the Internet was replaced by someone else?
In graduate school, a classmate was always up for anything and helpful toward any reqest. Always at the ready. But when his girlfriend came to visit, he completely went offline. He was unreachable. He would have made plans, but usually would forget about them if she was in town. I remember feeling so appalled that someone could fill up so much need in one’s life.
He’s married to her with three kids.
But perhaps that’s what I am seeking. To feel whole. To feel like I am somebody. Or moreover that all I wanted was someone to witness my life. The Internet in its awkward ways can do that. But what is better than someone you can trust completely who witnesses and champions your every move?