If Brad could read this, he’d be surprised. In the 1990s, Brad was plugged in, wired, and always accessible. I was on a very different path and lived much the same as I had for two decades. Secluded. Working alone, many years without even a telephone. I was hard to reach, and even harder to find. I didn’t seek out this lifestyle but I became accustomed to it. The pace suited me. I embraced it. And I soon developed the tools to keep mine a separate space.
My days were quiet and quite undisturbed. Letters were handwritten. There was no typewriter or fax machine. The mail came from a 4 inch square box at the Post Office. And I wasn’t online, using as my excuse a broadcast on Frontline I had once seen. The subject was the web, cookies, and all the crumbs we leave that turn us into a demographic others could relentlessly target – this, whenever we press the Enter key. I didn’t want my bubble penetrated unless I gifted someone the sharp object needed to get a peek inside. Brad and I chatted about this often; he was comfortable with being watched, but expected me to be the very last person to get a computer and all the baggage that came with it. And then one fateful day in early 2000, my net was cast out.
I continue to live quietly and enjoy my privacy. But the space inside my bubble has expanded. I use a keypad often, mostly to send out words so they can come back to me. I write for myself. But when I press the Enter key these words soon belong to everyone. I’ve become comfortable leaving my imprint in places I may never visit or know about. And if others are curious, it’s all there for them to read.
The web is the world’s longest magazine rack where browsing is encouraged with no obligation to purchase. It enables a local library on another continent to become your personal research assistant. The internet can transform a laptop into a body part. It’s also a place to relax while waiting for your next appointment. I like relaxing so it rarely bothers me when someone is late. Time spent online is social work as well as social play. A computer is just the delivery system, but I have been ordering out a lot lately. Brad would be very surprised.
My life hasn’t changed much since the 1990s, except these days I am more accessible. Brad passed away almost a decade ago so you’ll have to take my word on all this. Pressing the Enter key now…