LB: Live! From Paradise #208 “CyberPals”

(The intro to this column in a recently successful incarnation here on the web)

by Larry Brody

Confession time.

I am the sad sufferer of a secret addiction.

No, it’s not Demon Rum. Although I do have a keen appreciation of Gwen the Beautiful’s home brewed dark ale. Here on The Mountain we call it Manns Beer, after her maiden name, and if we were going to advertise the slogan would be, “A Real Man’s Beer, Made by a Real Manns Woman.”

And it’s certainly not drugs. Why would I want to alter a consciousness that those who visit this space as well as I have learned is already so very different from that of most people that I’ve been labelled “barely tethered to reality” more than a few times? (And that’s by admirers.)

I’m not even talking about my obsessive writing in general. Nor its sister, my compulsive need to reveal what Youngest Daughter Amber calls Brody World to anyone who will read or listen. After all, there’s nothing secret about either of those, is there?

No, my Secret That Must Never Be Revealed—which I’m revealing right here, right now, today—is that I’m totally enthralled with that amazing nowhere-but-everywhere space known as the Internet

AKA, to those of us who consider ourselves aficionados, the web.

AKA again, to those of us who not only are aficionados but snarky ones to boot, the Interweb.

Unlike most members of my generation, I’m pretty well up on the computer and cyberspace realms. Oh, I’m not nearly as knowledgeable as the average 14-year-old, but I got a late start. I was almost 50 when, inspired by all the fun I’d had playing Sim City on Nintendo with a friend’s son, I got my first PC. (Sorry, Apple!)

Over the years I’ve built my own computers, bought those made by HP and Dell and even moved up into the Big Tech PC stratosphere with a couple of state-of-the-art systems from Alienware.

I was an early member of Compuserve, the first nationwide Internet Service Provider, and also of AOL back when AOL did more than merely brand things. My older son, Jeb, turned me onto Netscape when it first came out, and I’ve had my own web site, TVWriter.Com, for about a dozen years.

In fact, TVWriter.Com still is where I spend almost all the time I’m not out enjoying, or writing about enjoying, the deeply grounded aspects of Rural America that make up my Paradise life.

I don’t use this space to write about surfing to favorite sites with arcane monikers like ArsTechnica, Consumerist, DownloadSquad, Engadget, Lifehacker, MediaWeek, TechCrunch, and Woot! DotCom because to me Brody Web World always has seemed totally unrelated to Brody Paradise World. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that maybe I was wrong.

It started with a passing comment from the Old Billionaire’s Over-Educated Son. “I know my dad loves his truck,” he said the other day. “But would he be so happy tooling around in an old flatbed if he didn’t have his own jet to take him anywhere in the world he wanted to go?”

I couldn’t answer for the O.B., of course, but I knew what Sonny was getting at…and it made me wonder whether I’d be as happy as I am communing with nature if I wasn’t also able to trade e-mails, IM’s, and message board posts with people from all over the world who share my career interests, wants, and needs.

Would Paradise remain my Eden if I couldn’t laugh or argue or otherwise carry on with Old Buddy Cal at his computer in Bellingham, Washington, just as easily as I do with Doug the Dog Breeder at his table in the local Walmart?

Considering how much more complex human beings are than we too often believe, it may well be that one community alone rarely is able to satisfy or fulfill any of us. Which, as I ponder further, makes me wonder if that’s what accounts for how family, work, and play usually spill out from each other and occupy separate niches.

A good way to learn what part of life really makes Larry B feel so good when he wakes up every morning should be to keep a close watch on both my outer life in Paradise and the inner one in cyberspace.

I’ll have to keep my eyes, ears, and mind wide open when the next long power outage keeps me firmly ensconced in nature.

Ditto the next time I find myself locked in a big city hotel room, with nothing to do but surf the web.

Uh-oh. Uncle Larry’s starting to jones just thinking about losing either aspect.

Looks like I have to admit it:

I need it all.

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