Wednesday, April 18, 2007

internet access

I am writing this post from Hastings Public Library. I am a Library Board member (Vice President, if you must know) and I use the library all the time but I've never been on the computers. Ollie is upstairs at story hour. I brought a book and a crochet project but I don't feel like doing either. And anyway, this is good practice.

Good practice for what, you ask? Here's the story. Paul and I share a cell phone. We have a land line at the house and one cell we use for long distance and for one of us to take with us whenever, though neither of us usually carry it around. If Paul's going birding, he'll take it. If I'm going to record at Todd & Cody's (they DON'T have a land line, so no one could reach me there) I'll take it.

I mentioned to Paul that when I start school next year we might want two cells. I will probably want to have one with me. Since I'll be on the go, from class to class, to work, probably to field work in a classroom somewhere it would be nice and smart to have the phone with me--if the kids' school calls (you know, head lice, rocks in the ears, whathaveyou). But it would be hard for Paul to NEVER have access to it--no long distance, no way to call for help should he get stuck down some muddy country road while birdwatching over lunch. Two phones might be nice. I refuse to say necessary--it would be nice and convenient.

So then our thoughts turned to how to pay for this added nicety and convenience. Give up cable? Oh, yeah. We don't have cable to give up. Give up the land line? I'm not ready to make that leap.

Having a common phone number is important to me because of it's impact on our family, and my marriage. I have friends with no land line and two separate cell numbers. When I want to call them I have to choose whom to call. In some cases, I am closer with , or have more business to discuss with the husband than the wife. No big deal. If I was calling a home phone either one of them would answer. If I had something to discuss with the husband and the wife answered I would get to talk to her first and then ask to speak with the husband. But with cell phones I end up only having contact with the husband and it could happen that the wife would never know that I had spoken to him. Again, in and of itself, it is no big deal.

Especially, as I am not now, nor do I plan ever to have an affair, this is no big deal. But I can see how easily it could become one. Technology increasingly provides avenues of privacy that we haven't ever really had before.

I remember talking to my friends or boyfriend on the phone in the living room with my whole family in there watching tv. Eventually we got a really, really long coiled handset cord that would stretch down the hall, not quite into my room--but at least I could sit at the end of the hall with my back against my closed bedroom door. Now all the high school kids in my Sunday School class have their own phone. They can talk to whomever they want, whenever they want about whatever they want and their parents have no way of controlling or monitoring or being in the know whatsoever.

Husbands and wives can have entirely private lives conducted over cell phones and the Internet without the other knowing. I have a yahoo account that's my "dummy account" for when I have to give an email address, so spam doesn't come to my regular account. It's how I log onto blogger and myspace and whatever. Paul may not know what that address even is. I could have a whole email centered life, if I wanted to, that he knew nothing about. That's creepy.

As it is we have a joint primary email account. I like this. I don't read his email. He doesn't read my email (do you? :) ). But when I get an email it's right there in the inbox for him to look at if he wanted. I have nothing to hide. It's like a little safety net, should we ever need accountability, there it is. If for some reason I felt insecure or threatened by...I don't know...a bunch of emails coming from some birdwatching lady in North Dakota...I could read them if I wanted. I think I'd find a boring (subjective term, I know) list of rare birds spotted this spring, but I could look if I wanted. And when my guy friends email me, Paul sees it in the inbox. I like that openness.

I have no reason to be suspicious. I'm not in the least. I have no reason to be worried. I am not in the least. And I never have been--because we have always had that sort of openness.

Another thing (in italics because I'm adding it later): answering the phone when it is not for you chit-chat is important. When my mom wants to talk to me, if she called my cell and not our family number, she would never talk to Paul. Same goes for any extended family. Paul's brothers wouldn't call ME, in most cases, unless it was for something specific, and that would be rarely. But when they do call for Paul and I answer I get to talk to them for a few minutes. That is important. That is how we stay a family and keep in touch.

So we will keep the land line.

Plus, our kids will want a phone to use. Phoebe has started calling friends and making plans. She and Moses LOVE to call time and temp. I feel like if we had only cell phones, they would be less likely to get to practice those small, basic, very first phone calls. Sure, they could dig my phone out of my purse...but the phone sitting on the counter is much more accessable. And they are learning how to ANSWER the phone when it rings. I sometimes forget that these are skills kids have to LEARN, but they do and they are important life skills. I would not pull the ringing cell phone out of my pocket and hand it to Mo to answer. Maybe people do. I can't picture it. I imagine a generation of kids growing up NOT using the phone (because there isn't one on the counter accessible to them) and then when they are twelve or something, suddenly, they have their OWN cell phone, which they can then use with no monitoring without having ever learned phone etiquette, or appropriateness, or...maybe this is all in my head...but these are the things I think about.

But something has to give if we are to afford two cell phones. Paul suggested ditching Internet access, which seemed TOTALLY ABSURD to me at first. No Internet. Wuh huh? Impossible. But if Paul is at work all day with a computer and I am at school all day in class or working in the learning center/computer lab--couldn't we get all our computing done during business hours? And if not, the church IS right across the street. Plus, if I couldn't get on the Internet to stare at Craftster and TMZ, think of all I could accomplish.

Of course, then we'd have to use our "dummy" email accounts as real accounts, thus getting rid of the open and shared email inbox of which I just spoke so highly. Or we could get a shared dummy account, but that almost seems like taking it to far....or not?

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