One month (minus one)


One month before I leave for South Korea.

One month before I leave for South Korea.

Actually, it was a month yesterday, but I decided on a whim to take an Internet fast for a day. It was great. I know I am addicted to the Internet, to the constant stream of information (or no-information, as my 50 times a day e-mail checking habit can attest to) available instantly. It numbs me and it dumbs me and makes me not like myself a little bit. So, I kept it off. No morning with coffee and the computer, no “I am sure someone important has contacted me on a Saturday with something that cannot wait in the last five minutes since I checked my e-mail before.” No feeling like I wasted my day, even though I did not do a lot. My niece and her boyfriend came over for lunch. We ate, I continued to recover from my latest illness, watched NFL playoffs with my brother who also stopped by, made mung bean stew. Took the dog for a walk in the park. Did not check my e-mail once. When I popped it on this morning, nothing pressing had gone unattended by me, no one was dead because I did not respond to their Facebook message. It’s funny how this could become a problem. But, it has.

Several years ago, a man playing Starcraft, an enormously popular online game in South Korea, died after playing the game for over 50 hours straight. And I thought I had a problem. While I like to take breaks from all that is important on Digg and Fark from time to time, I still find myself separating from reality. This becomes reality, this screen. The brain cannot tell the difference. Almost like the Japanime “Serial Experiments: Lain” only not animated and without a catchy theme song.

Unlike in 2005, I will have a computer in South Korea from the onset. Instead of racking up toll charges from international calls, I’ll have Skype. A good thing. But, if and when I get the inevitable “you’re 8,000 miles from home” blues, like Lain, it can be very easy to throw myself into “The Wired.” You can’t get hurt in there. At least 2005 had the cold, cold walks to the P.C. Bang down the street. At least that got me out of the apartment (and despite South Korea’s incredibly wired world, P.C. Rooms are still ubiquitous. The Internet Cafe is a cultural thing, not just a thing of convenience). But, what a boring year it would be if most of my memories revolved around checking Facebook.

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