The weather has turned, and now I am feeling restless. My eyes are glazed as I look down at the timestamp on the lower right-hand side of my screen. There is a mere splinter of sunlight on the brick wall outside our window and oh, how it makes my foot tap, my chest tighten. Can I stand another moment on my computer? I wonder.
It used to be that if we could escape the cubicle, we could escape the aimless sound of settling that ticks off nine-to-five. Now, we want to escape the sitting. We want to escape the screen. The poor cubicle isn’t forcing our dreams to hunch over; the screen inside of it is.
People are envious of me because of the cubicle thing. I work remotely, which means my dining room table is my office. Ask any other remote or freelance or location-independent worker however, and they will agree with me: it’s lonely. When you can work wherever you want, the path of least resistance is to sit inside your house all day and meet people through the Internet.
Social disconnection isn’t really the Internet’s fault though. People waved to neighbors from their porches until air conditioning arrived. Now, I don’t meet my neighbors until the fire alarm goes off and we all wait outside for the fireman’s clearance. I don’t even bring my computer; everything I own that matters is in the cloud.
Back online, here is my indulgence: I like visiting a person’s About page and studying their photo. I like turning my head to examine the wrinkle on their chin when they smile. And I like looking into their eyes. Indeed we are on the Internet, in part, because it allows us to stare.
I am intoxicated with my Internet life until I live my real life. Where all the senses inform my experience, not just what goes on inside my head. I particularly like going out for dinner and drinks because the service industry has not let go of looking you in the eye – their tip depends on the mysterious and momentary connection that results. And then there is running and because I recently sold my car, bicycling. I like when the humidity suffocates your lungs and you can feel everything in the air pushing back on you and yet, you move forward.
So, there are days I want to take the web middleman from his place between me and the rest of the world never to return. But my relationship with the web is a paradox. I can’t imagine life without it. And it is here that I want to say we should stop looking down at our computers, and down at our phones, and down at the rest of the screens that will inevitably arrive during the the rest of our lives. We should rebel.
We should look up.
But I cannot do this myself. And so I feel the stillness pooling in the bottom of sitting muscles no matter if I go for a run or a drink. And the glow of the screen lights my face. If we were in a movie, this would be the doomsday ending. But somehow, I think it will all be okay.