Is There Life Without the Internet?

I spent most of yesterday updating my virus protection software. For some reason known only to the computer gods and gurus, simple tasks that should be done in a matter of minutes take hours upon hours. I ended up downloading the program and removing it twice, talking to several different billing and tech people (and some I’m not even sure work for the company — if you google “Trend Micro contact”, you get all sorts of phone numbers, only some of which go the to actual company.) And because they couldn’t simply credit my account with a refund and use that money for the second download I had to pay twice (though they did promise a refund for one of the downloads. Wink. Wink.).

Although I could write a whole post (perhaps even an amusing one) about my experiences with the update, mentioning it is by way of a prologue. I’ve used Trend Micro from the beginning, and it’s been good protection, so I’ve been sticking with them, but yesterday, halfway through the process, I told them I was so unhappy with their service, I was ready to throw away my computer. For just a second, I meant it, and I felt free. And then the truth hit me.

untiledMy life is almost all online. Sure, I could take walks, but who would I tell about my insights? I could write my thoughts, but who would read them? Who would talk to me about Is Introspection Possible? and What Is Luck?, my Soul’s Journey and Living Light and Free? This blog has seen me through some terrible times in my life, and some good ones. It was here that I first announced I’d found a publisher, first promoted my books, first talked about the agony of my grief, had my first inklings that there might someday be happiness for me again. I cannot imagine my life without it. But this is not the only thing I’d have forego.

Without the internet, I’d have no life as an author. I could still write books, but who would talk to me about them? I could perhaps still check with bookstore owners and see if I can do book signings, but what if I wanted to publish another book? Book files are all digital now. How would I get the manuscript digitalized so I could send to my publisher?

There is too much of my life I’d have to do without. I have friends in the real world, which is nice, but I also have friends in the cyber world — people from all around the world — that I’d never get to talk to or email again. I’d never get to check in Facebook again. Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a loss, but still, it is a part of the online experience, and I’d miss all the people I’ve friended and those I haven’t yet met.

And Rubicon Ranch — the collaboration/serialization I’m writing with other Second Wind authors — I’d have to give up on that, too, just when all the authors are learning to have fun with it and run with it.

Every day online offers the possibility of something wonderful happening. So, after my whole online life flashed before my eyes along with the vision of what my life would be like without the internet, I girded my loins, gritted my teeth, stepped once more into the fray, (feel free to add whatever other clichés you wish), and finally got the job done. Now I just have to wait to see if they follow through on their side with the refund.

Either way, I’ll still be here.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

13 Responses to “Is There Life Without the Internet?”

  1. K FrostFlower Says:

    I spent most of yesterday updating my virus protection software. For some reason known only to the computer gods and gurus, simple tasks that should be done in a matter of minutes take hours upon hours.
    just curious why you would think it would only take minutes?
    have you written antivirus software yourself?
    viruses are created these days by children who are still in middle school, were you aware of that?
    to create a Trojan is easier than protecting against every possible permutation of its existence.
    the answer is simply.. if you want to play the game, you have to adhere to the ever changing rules of it.
    meaning only
    to be here now, means to accept the rules of the game, to accept the possibility of a virus.
    nobody likes it.
    nobody can really stop it.
    to complain about the painstaking task of stopping it, is to complain about stopping at a red light in traffic.
    walk, run, drive, prance dance or strut.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was talking about updating my purchased software, not writing a program. Most software takes less than thirty minutes to download and install. Why wouldn’t I presume that it should be that easy when the site itself and various reviews of the program told me that it would take only minutes? And in fact, the first one did only take minutes. But then there were billing issues and various other issues that involved numerous phone calls, uninstalling that program and downloading another one, and those took all day.

      And yes, I understand the possibilities of viruses. That’s why I use anti-virus protection. I am buying someone else’s expertise.

  2. knightofswords Says:

    Years ago, I had fun going to several writers groups. But I live in a small town now, and only know a couple of other people in the area who write short stories and novels. I need the online world to connect with others and also to research things that can’t be found in our small public library. It would be very difficult to work without a computer linked to the rest of the world even though I, too, have had days where software that’s supposed to help me screws up, doesn’t download properly, or otherwise turns the day into something really tedious.


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It was amazing to me to realize how very alone I’d be without the internet. It’s really been nice connecting with like-minded people. You and I have had a lot of interesting discussions over the years, and I’d miss your input.

  3. K FrostFlower Says:

    totally understood.
    perhaps computerworld’s analysis of the problem might give some enlightenment.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s totally stunning at times to think of all the terrible things that can happen to our machines. Luckily, I’ve only had a couple of problems in five years with viruses, neither malicious, just annoying, but after yesterday’s battle, I’ve ended up with free diagnosis and free removal if ever necessary, so it was worth the hassle.

  4. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Good luck Pat and please don’t throw away your computer. I still have hopes that through our discussions I’ll make you interested enough that you’ll become a follower of my blog, LOL.

  5. Juliet Waldron Says:

    Yes, it just keeps getting more and more complicated all the time. I still haven’t adopted a “real” cell phone and now have trouble getting MS word to work, as MS, in their infinite wisdom keep hiding commonly used things like single space inside elaborate drop-down menus. I suppose it’s good for my elder brain to figure out all these new puzzles that are supposed to make word processing “easier,” but gee, I’d rather be doing almost anything else.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t like the idea of computers at the beginning, but then they became so easy to operate that I fell in love with the whole thing. I thought that once I embraced computers, I’d always be on the forefront of progress, but now electronics have evolved way beyond anything I am interested in. I have a dumb phone and prefer it that way. (It’s not that dumb, I can text and check emails, but for anything else, I’d just as soon sit at the computer where I can see what is on the screen without squinting.) After six years of having a computer and being on the internet, I know exactly how I want to use the tool — blogging, writing, research, processing the few photos I take, emailing and e-talking with people. Anything else is superfluous.

      I like word 2007, and don’t want to get a newer one. I like my old computer (if anything only five years old can be considered old).

      If you have msword 2007, I’ll be glad to help, but if you have 2010, you’re on your own.

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