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Pique N Your Interest

Feeling off-line?

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Are there more storms on the way? What’s the temperature in the alpine right now? What’s going on in the world out there?

I don’t know. I’m adrift in a sea of ignorance.

My daily routine has been completely thrown off schedule. For four days now I haven’t been able to read the CBC, the Globe and Mail and CNN online every morning to see what happened in the eight hours I was asleep. I haven’t been able to compulsively check the news every hour throughout the day to see if there are any changes, and with no red number on my e-mail icon I’m feeling very sorry for myself. No one in this entire world appears to be getting in touch with me, not even junk mail.

I feel out of the loop, unconnected, lost without my link to the outside world.

As an information junkie living in a world where almost every query can be answered with a few clicks of the mouse, life without the Internet, even for just a few days, has thrown me completely off balance.

The simplest tasks have become much more onerous.

Take my Christmas cards as an example. Leaving the card writing to the last minute, as usual, I began my Christmas cards this past weekend.

It was going smoothly until I realized I had some missing addresses. Usually the answer is as simple as going to Canada411.com and copying down the address. (You would think I would copy it into my address book at the same time but with the Internet always at my disposal, why bother?) Now I know why.

My option now is to call people to ask for their addresses, which is a little embarrassing five days before Christmas. I had been hoping to blame my late cards on the mail, not my own disorganization.

But Christmas card addresses are really the least of my worries.

There is the other worrisome issue of my bank balance. I wanted to check how much money’s left in the account, move some money around and more specifically, see in black and white how much money I’ve racked up on my credit card this month before heading back out there to the stores. I shudder to think of it. It’s so easy to buy Christmas presents on credit and such a huge shock in the New Year when you get your bill, I was hoping a reality check and actually seeing the numbers staring back at me online would tighten up my spending. The numbers will just go in one ear and out the other if I call for the balance.

And what about my friends from around the world who I’m in touch with on an almost daily basis, even if it’s just to say a quick hello? It’s weird not to check in, weirder still not to have someone checking in.

And then there’s the simple but all important matter of checking and corroborating information at work, a crucial part of my job.

It’s so easy to confirm how people spell their names and their titles simply by checking their websites. The Internet also comes in handy for looking up basic historical information and dates.

Writing a story on grizzly bears? Let’s learn everything about them, including the most recent studies online.

Researching ammonia? There’s a plethora of information about its basic properties. There’s more information out there than you’ll ever want to know.

What did we do in the days before the Internet? Just imagine having to do things the old fashioned way at the library.

I wouldn’t know about that. For my entire working career I have taken the Internet for granted. It has always been at my disposal, ready to call up any fact, any figure, any stat at any moment’s notice.

I didn’t realize you could miss something quite so much.

So it’s back. And I’m starting to feel normal again, able to settle back into my routine, able to check some last minute things before we go to print this issue.

But it’s been an eye-opener.

In fact, by the end of day four I was starting to get a little used to it, liking the feeling of being out of touch.

In this fast-paced, crazed world maybe taking a few days to disconnect is a good thing.

I mean, really, who cares what the temperature is in the alpine or how much snow fell last night. It only really matters if you’re up there enjoying it, rather than checking it from your desk and missing it.

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