It was bound to happen eventually. After years of getting by with a creaky old computer that probably wasn’t even good for spare parts anymore, last week the inevitable happened: our PC conked out, packed up, gave up the ghost. Sorting out a replacement is taking some considerable time, as is generally the case here in Italy, where even the purchase of a standard mobile phone entails some considerable bureaucracy. As a result, my web presence has been minimal of late.
At first, of course, I panicked. No internet! No blogging, no tweeting! No email, even! The thought brought me out in a cold sweat. I had vague nightmares about being stuck in some technological time warp, while the rest of the world charged ahead without me. Times change fast these days, after all. Just twenty years ago nobody had heard of Google, and tweeting was something birds did. Now, living without these things is almost inconceivable.
Once I’d sweated a bit, though, the prospect didn’t seem too bad. For a few days, I thought, I’d just have to let the web go its own merry way, and forget about it. I dug out my old word processor – tiny screen, four fonts, absolutely no internet access – and sat down to write. I’m using it to tap out the next chapter of my WIP. I’m using it to jot down my shopping list. I’m using it to write this blog entry – which I will in due course print out and take with me the next time I can use a PC, probably at my mother-in-law’s house, and type out anew. (Forgive any spelling mistakes and typos. Speed-typing was never my forte, especially when fresh pasta is waiting on the table downstairs.)
What’s it like, here in my little technological backwater? Quite nice, actually. Life has taken on a slow, measured pace. I’m vaguely aware that cyberspace is charging on at the same frenzied speed as before: emails are flying back and forth, tweets are being tweeted, viruses are, er, going viral. It makes no difference to me, at the moment. I’m living happily in my little imaginary world, thanks, and I’m quite grateful for a holiday from the breakneck velocity of the web.
Getting away from the internet is a little like leaving the motorway and driving out into a small country lane. You have to slow down a bit – a lot, actually. You can’t manoeuvre about quite as freely as you could before. There are very few other motorists about. But it’s fun. You can take your time, enjoy the scenery. If you want, you can stop altogether, get out and go for a little walk.
When I’m driving along the information superhighway, the most significant aspect of the journey – writing – sometimes seems like a vague blur at the corner of my field of vision. I can’t see it very clearly, and it is at any rate secondary to the business of driving properly and avoiding high-speed crashes. Now, driving along my narrow country road, I can appreciate it. I can see the lie of the land and its various features. I can get out of the car and go and explore them, if I want. The journey is taking a long time, but it’s enjoyable, and has become every bit as important as arriving at the destination.
I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to rejoin you in cyberspace. Here in Italy, life is not meant to be hurried: if it isn’t done today, it’ll be done tomorrow, and if it isn’t done tomorrow it probably wasn’t that important to begin with. It could take a while. In the meantime, forgive the general silence that will inevitably greet all electronic communications. Emails and tweets will go unacknowledged, at least for the present. I’ll probably be unable to read blog posts, still less comment on them or tweet them. All these things will have to wait until I finally rejoin the motorway.
Leave a comment, if you so wish. It may be a while before I can moderate and/or reply, of course, but still…