Register Wednesday | June 26 | 2019

Agoraphobia & Avoidance

The Internet in the Key of “A”

Ness here. I’m not a natural nerd. I can take or leave most aspects of the culture. I have none of the typical nerdly graces. I failed Algebra four times in high school and had to take night classes in practical math to graduate (I can now operate a cash register like the dickens). My C++ class at university made me cry. I enjoy Lego, especially Bellville, but the first time I step on one with a bare foot, they’re in the damn trash. I’m currently “on a break” with Star Wars (although we’re meeting with a relationship counsellor on September 21st). I appreciate the recent trend towards retro video gaming because it makes me feel like a genius, not because I’m nostalgic.

As well, I’ve always enjoyed Macs. There are very few tiny screws and commands. Given my day-late, dollar-short zeal for responsible borrowing, however, I can’t afford to keep up with the Macintoshes, nor do I have the conviction of entitlement to convince my creditors to afford one on my behalf. Consequently, my Macspertise is stuck at OS8 and I'm paired with a new-to-me PC laptop that usually can’t comply with my clicky wishes—it’s limited by my own limitations. I know less than most of my peers about Windows platform computing. But I’m comfortable with all of that. I’m no pacesetter, but I get ‘er done.

Neither am I an eBay addict or a chat enthusiast. That is all so full of hoping and trying and caring. I only hope I don’t have to leave the house, I try not to do it and I care if I’m disturbed while I’m out in the world. I don’t compulsively seek information about emerging technologies or innovations unless they have direct application to furthering my comfort. The Internet is not a virtual pissing contest for me; it’s an enabler of my preferred lifestyle. Simply put, I came into my nerdiness through my craziness.

Eight years ago, I met my dearest friend via the Internet. We talk to each other daily, we share photos, we send packages, we live on separate continents and we’ve seen each other in person three times. At the time we “met,” the notion of connecting and reaching outward using the web was novel and exciting. But given time and my personal tendencies, it became a means of navigating within a closed set of relationships; maintaining without innovating. During the eight years of our amazing best-friendship web technologies have advanced, and so has the sophistication of my avoidance mechanisms. Internet yellow pages, the rise of weblogs and new developments in digital photography have all helped to nudge closed the door inside myself.

I can now find out if I’ll be interested in something before I have to be interested—my husband, for example. I took pickaxe to Internet and mined every possible nugget of fact and opinion about him before we met in person. As it turned out, I was very interested before I had to be interested. Together, we now pay the bills, find apartments, restaurants, pets, physicians, possible diagnoses and research psychotropic medications I should consider taking, all using the splendidly helpful Internet.

Blog culture is the best—so many imaginary peers for me, minus the ups and downs of those first few years of awkward adult friendship. I particularly love those who invest in the bandwidth required to host photos, as a leisurely visual lurk through someone’s personal life is always rewarding. It’s a particularly constructive exercise if their site triggers awareness of something I’d like to cultivate in myself: admirable personal style, a well-ordered life, a perfect sense of humour, talent, riches, what have you. This idle anthropological research is equivalent to having a personal quality or hobby, or the best personal qualities and hobbies of five hundred different people, without all the bother.

Social anxiety and technological resources intersected during my early adulthood. At first, I only researched the lay of the critical land in a given subject to better manipulate classroom discussions to my advantage and reduce the need for prolonged participation in said discussions. Two solid gold contributions, two checkmarks by my name on the class roster, and I could return to the Land of Dairy Queen or wherever my head was. Then, online courses became available and I lost any sense of propriety about social interaction. I became the ghost of every 24-hour establishment, sleeping best during the day and waking only for work or to sign for deliveries of all my lovely things purchased online at rock-bottom prices.

Moving to Canada has increased my reliance upon the Internet to filter out potential unpleasantness. I had more 24-hour options available to me in small town U.S.A. than I do in downtown Toronto. And if I can’t do it at four in the morning, I’ll just have to do it online. To that end, please leave all suggested resources for bribing of customs officers and dodging of import duties in the comments below.

COMING SOON: A look at Doom 3, which, by the way, finally came out this week and was apparently a big huge deal.

David and Vanessa currently live and toil in Toronto--for a large technology corporation and a non-profit, respectively.  They met via their blogs, and were married in the winter of 2002.  They have a hamster and a dog, but no yacht.