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my addiction.
computers are slightly addictive.
by david damsker
2.5.03
humor


I just wrote this column as soon as I read Jael's column on Civilization. That's the way I do things. I write stuff when I feel strongly about it and then post it. I'm like a kid with some loose change...I gotta spend it now.

It's pretty pathetic. I can be sitting at my computer writing something, and I think, how do I spell "commitment"? Is it 1 "t" or 2 "t"s? My first reaction is to go to dictionary.com and check it out. Sure, I could get my lazy ass up and walk over to the bookshelf about 6 feet away, but do I? Nah.

This is 2003. I remember way back to 1992, as a freshman at Chapel Hill, when I was the first person of anyone I knew that had an email address. I couldn't do much with it, mind you, until a few friends at Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Tufts (Yes, that's Adam), and UVA also got accounts. Then the fun began. We would meet in chat rooms and talk in real time. It was freakin' awesome! Whatever I typed was immediately seen by everybody else. It couldn't get any better than this.

The internet had Yahoo, and espn.com, and a few other sites. I could surf the entire net in about 5 minutes. It was cool, but certainly not time consuming.

Over the course of the next few years, I started writing email religiously to all of my friends to the point that I wanted to check my email at least once every day or two. The computer labs weren't open in my dorm on the weekends, so I had to walk over to main campus to check it....it wasn't worth it.

Then, by the time I graduated, I was living off campus without a computer, and so I drove to campus to check my email at least once a day. I still hadn't ordered anything off the net, or even bought a plane ticket home. It was all email, and maybe espn.com.

During medical school, it all changed. What do you do when you need a break from studying? Well, the computer lab was now open 24 hours a day. I could be up at 2AM studying, and wham, instant break. (Although Dunkin Donuts' Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagels were also good breaks, by the way)

I began to crave information the way Michael Jackson craves young boys. And the freakin' internet helped fuel my addiction. EVERYTHING was now becoming electronic. Bank accounts, Credit Cards, Shopping, Plane tickets, SPorts, People Magazine, CNN....you name it, it was there.

Then of course, assignments needed to be completed on-line. You didn't even need to stand up to "take a break" from work. Slowly but surely, checking email and the internet went from once a day to 5-6 times a day.

Schools always had fast T-1 lines to use, but at home was always that damn dial-up. That (sort-of) curtailed my use at home. But then (evil) home cable modems appeared, and information that took 5 minutes to download now took 5 seconds. The last barrier to my total oblivion was now removed.

Now when I need any information at all, I run to the computer immediately. (Anyone know the feeling? Actually, anyone who is on Intrepid is a computer-aholic like me, so, yes, you all know.) Before I even turn on the TV, I run to tvguide.com and see what's on. It's awful. My wife thinks I'm a deranged lunatic. We even have a 2nd computer hooked onto the Cable modem so she won't get as mad. (As long as she has a computer to use, it's much better. Still thinks I'm crazy, though.)

Of course, I'm developing shooting pains up and down my right arm and elbow. Even with an "ergonomic" mouse. I can't wait to see what else will be fully computerized. Neither can my orthopedic surgeon.


ABOUT DAVID DAMSKER

Cynical. Funny. Logical. Atheist. Honest. Argumentative. Loyal. Talkative. Stubborn.

more about david damsker

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COMMENTS

robert melos
2.5.03 @ 10:46p

When I want to check spelling on something and don't have the immediate use of spell check (the second greatest invention known to man) I pop over to google and just type the word in. I didn't know about dictionary.com. Guess I'll be using that from now on. Cool.



brian anderson
2.5.03 @ 11:46p

Or you could check Merriam-Webster at m-w.com for a newer dictionary. Or for $550 US Money, you could get a year's subscription with the Oxford English Dictionary. I fear, however, that when I finally have gotten to the point of being able to buy and house an OED, I will never leave its side. It could be more addictive than Civ for me.

trey askew
2.6.03 @ 7:20a

At least you remember how to find things without a computer. Think about the kids in school today that use the internet as their only resource. They'll be screwed if the internet breaks!

erik myers
2.6.03 @ 9:28a

It's the same kinds who don't know why the rest of us call the << button on the remote, "Rewind."

david damsker
2.6.03 @ 9:36a

I agree, if the internet broke, a lot of kids would be screwed. However, I think all of us would be screwed as well. Intrepid would have trouble working without the internet. :)

erik myers
2.6.03 @ 9:43a

Given, but we can all write without the Internet. Without a computer, even. Somewhere, tucked away in all my posessions, I even have a typewriter! We had a temp here at work once (young, young girl) who didn't know how to use one.

Imagine that!

david damsker
2.6.03 @ 9:48a

My worst nightmare is applying for a job that requires I use a typewriter for the application. Trying to get the type to be the right level on the lines...now that's tough.

[edited]

brian anderson
2.6.03 @ 9:52a

That's your worst nightmare? Count yourself lucky, then.

I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, including things like justifying and centering and all sorts of stuff I don't remember anymore.

Getting back on topic, I've seldom used the Internet for research, because I can never figure out how to cite a webpage, let alone Usenet.

(Oh, sure, there are style guides ... but they're never consistent, anyway.)

erik myers
2.6.03 @ 10:02a

Sure. There are good consistant style guides for it. You can buy a book (like Simon and Schuster's Handbook for Writers). Or I'm sure if you do a nice little Google search you can find something. (heh heh..)

steven goldman
2.6.03 @ 11:57a

I remember how to research in a library without the Internet (I think Emory still wants my head for interlibrary loan abuses), but as I'm no longer a student or living in my college town, I don't have a library on hand that I get special privileges at.

tracey kelley
2.6.03 @ 4:56p

We have 3 dictionaries in the house - 1 huge one that needs to sit on its own stand in a corner somewhere, and 2 at my desk. The big one that sits on my desk is illustrated and kind of cool...

...but the one I use the most is my battered and taped little Webster's from college. Because I am a horrible speller, I can just never be without it.

matt morin
2.6.03 @ 8:14p

Every copywriting job I've had I go in, buy a nice dictionary and thesaurus, expense it, then take it with me when I leave.

Dictionaries: 4
Thesauri: 3
Quotation books: 2

heather millen
2.6.03 @ 8:21p

Quote books are great. I have several myself.

And I am a complete sucker for the thesaurus, but does anyone have the big book of synonyms? That book rocks!



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