Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How you use it

My husband and I are both fairly serious users of the Internet and mobile technologies, but that's where the similarity ends.

Where I tweet (a lot), he Facebooks. (I can't stand Facebook.)

Where I blog (probably too much), he runs a couple of forums.

Where I read political commentary, news, other blogs, think pieces, fiction, and poetry online, he is addicted to funny stuff on Imgur and Reddit.

Where I use the the Learned Professor Google for work and life reference, constantly, he frequents tech-heavy sites and science spaces.

Where I watch an inordinate amount of little things on YouTube, he watches actual TV shows from DVDs on his screen.

Where I buy and download ebooks, he buys and downloads music and games.

Where I fixate on memes, he plays online games. (A lot of online games).

Where we both carry our phones most of the time, he uses his for voice, as a media player, and for instant messaging. I tweet and text from mine frequently and almost exclusively, to the point where I get a bit of a fright if it actually rings.

Where I message like a born tweeter (in several, short phrases, across several messages), he sends great wodges of text, and gets annoyed with my staccato style. (Attention-deficit, he calls it. Chatty, says I).

What we share, though, is an intertwining of life and screen that's nothing like what we would have imagined possible even 5 years ago, let alone when we started dating more than 15 years back. The Internet is tangled in our work, actions and thoughts in a way that other, less versatile tech delivery mechanisms (TV, film, radio) never were.

And for all our differences, we share a lot online.

He introduced me to thesixtyone, an alternative music showcase site that we both love.

We all, the kids too, play online maths and puzzle games, seeking out new and challenging ones.

We have a family Horrible Histories addiction that is steadily fed by YouTube.

And well, it's not always perfectly balanced. (Is anything?) Sometimes each of us invests too much online and it shows in our interactions, with each other and with our kids. Sometimes one of us, usually me, goes through a Luddite revulsion and powers down completely for a while, which actually highlights the other's usage in a non-favourable way.

But I think at the end of the day, we live in a connected world now. We are connected, to each other and our children, to friends we've seen and friends we've only "seen", to all the things that happen and are thought and spoken, to all the pretties and the cruelties and the wondering and worrying and pain, the glories and the tragedies. We care about people we only know online, and we believe in them, for better or worse. That's our world now, and we are in it and of it. The Internet is neither bad nor good, it is a tool, and it can be wielded to bring richness to life, just as easily as it can alienate people from themselves and others.

What I hope for us is not that we revert to how we were when I was 22 and the proud possessor of a 386 un-networked PC, a landline phone, a stereo, and nothing else. No, I hope that we are able to integrate our connectivity into our lives in a way that lets us be more ourselves, and more with each other, than ever. In touch and in speech, on screen, offline, many strands to the whole.

Because, at the end of the day, it's all about how you use it.


  1. Sounds like my husband and i.. but he hates facebook and twitter.. but forever looking at wiki or reading news/film sites.. where as I just google and facebook :)

    love the post..


  2. It is a tough balance this online world! Great post!

  3. My hubby is always sitting on his laptop reading the forums he frequents. on his phone his usually on twitter but never tweets. I'm on everything twitter, facebook, pinterest, forums blogs. We enjoy our quiet time when the kids are in bed but at 10:30pm computers go off and we have some alone time together.

  4. Great post. It's amazing to think how much technology has become so embedded in our lives in such a short timeframe.

  5. Thats right we need to use it to help to connect us but still do the realife stuff too!

  6. It's a tough balance, as long as we don't lose sight of connecting in real life relationships, the Internet can enhance our live and widen our connections.