Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Microwave Internet

You know, the internet has become a huge blessing in my life. I often wonder how I ever lived without it. When my sisters and I are discussing this topic one of us always sums it up by saying, 'it's just like mom and the microwave.' In our sister circle we all know what that means.

Back in the days when we feathered our hair and religiously listened to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 on the radio every Sunday afternoon we heard rumors of this metal box that could cook food quickly. Slowly our friend's moms got them and everyone raved about how great they were.

But our mom could not be convinced. She was sure they were hard to operate. Or hard to clean. Or radiated nuclear rays that would beam us all full of cancer. Until the day dad just brought one home. No discussions. The mammoth machine just appeared on the counter one day. And within 24 hours, our mom was in love. Within one week she was saying, "how did I ever live without this?!"

That's how my sisters and I are with the internet. I remember the day, just about a decade ago, that I first signed onto AOL. It was what new people did. We were all baptized into the internet when we heard "You've got mail!" for the very first time. Then there was no stopping us.

We learned to shop on the web and then all learned in due time that deep product discounts have to be weighed with shipping and handling charges. Eventually we stumbled upon medical websites. There we had lessons to learn about being careful who to believe and bouncing seemingly crazy information off our trustworthy, in-person, real life doctors.

Now I do all my banking online and check on my kid's school activities. I keep in touch with our large family and friends all over the country in just minutes a day. Heck, I rarely even use the four phone books that keep appearing on my doorstep and take up space on my sagging office shelves. Who needs to flip through flimsy pages when a few key strikes can get the information so much faster?

The month of December was much more traumatic than it had to be in our family mainly because sometime in the second week of that month our family computer died. Not just hiccuped loudly. It died. And with it went all the resources I use to keep this family moving forward. I think it was the closest I have come to having a cardiac arrest not counting the two times I've watched my toddlers fall down a flight of stairs. (different kids, different houses, years need to call family services)

So tonight as I was once again clicking around, minimizing this, maximizing that, I had a realization. That as much as the internet has been a blessing to me, at times it can also be a curse.

Because tonight I am clicking back and forth on weather websites and I am not at all thrilled at what I am seeing. Snow. And sleet. And driving winds. Right down the path my husband will be driving in a few hours to pick up my first born son at the airport in NYC.

He's finally coming home. After over two weeks of pure fun and endless opportunities for lifetime memories in Brazil, my boy has boarded a plane in Sao Paulo and is in the air as I type this. In the hours he is flying the storm will be coming down. I'm not even sure he'll be able to land. He might end up in Chicago by breakfast time. I have no idea. His dad may end up in a ditch, trying to get that mini van down to Long Island as the snowstorm flies. The forecast says driving will be treacherous to impossible. But what about dads who just want to pick up their boy? Don't they get exemptions?

So having the ability to track this storm is not really doing me any favors. In my old life I would catch the forecast on the 11 o'clock news and just go to bed, hoping for the best. But in this new age of endless information I can technically track this storm, minute by minute, as it moves up the coast to wreck havoc on our tidy plans. Maybe that's not such a good thing.

Maybe sometimes I need to just step away from the technology and let things be. Worrying and tracking and fretting will do me no good. I think maybe it's time to log off and go make some cocoa. Good thing my microwave is standing by and ready.

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