Stephen is… Lost in Antarctica


Maybe it’s just me, but lately I feel like I’m getting a little overwhelmed by technology. I just think there comes a time in a human being’s life where we reach this saturation point with a lot of things: we run too far, too fast, and we feel like we’re about to die; we drink too much and we puke; we stay up too late and we collapse from fatigue; we have too many freakin web-based communication tools and profiles to manage and during a dramatic psychological meltdown we sell everything and hop on the next ship to Antarctica and live amongst the penguins- the non-tweeting kind. 

You all know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like how the heck do we manage to keep everything going? You’ve got your cell phone, your facebook account, your twitter account, your online-dating account, your work e-mail, your personal e-mail, that personal e-mail account that you haven’t used in years because you’re embarrassed by the address (something like [email protected]…) but it was the only thing you could think of at the time that no one else had and you just can’t get rid of it because there are still a few people out there that send mail to it and haven’t bothered to change to your new e-mail address even though you’ve told them on numerous occasions. It all gets a little overwhelming, especially when your real life gets busy.

I have to admit, when e-mail and IM came out I was pretty impressed. In high school I used to yak on the phone with my friend Ryon for hours at a time and it would drive my parents and anyone trying to contact our house crazy! Some people still get angry at me when they hear a busy signal… remember those? I had my hotmail and my ICQ and I was addicted! I was chatting online with friends, family, and with people from all over the world and thought it was the coolest thing. I spent hours on the computer chatting with people I didn’t know, and spending less time with my family and friends that I did know. It was really a lesson in balance for me as I would turn down hanging out with people and doing my homework for my online life.

As I later realized, I had to make the technology work for me: not be a slave to it. So what I did was check my e-mail once or twice per day- unless I was waiting for something specific, and set my IM provider (it’s not ICQ anymore- although I miss that little coloured flower) to offline as a default. I found that when I did that, I didn’t have to be tempted by who was online and who wasn’t; I didn’t have to feel guilty or compelled to respond to people and not appear bitchy when they said hi and saw that I was online and then didn’t return the salutation, and the fifteen minute conversation that would often ensue. It worked great… until Facebook came along.

I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, then the smartphone bandwagon, then started getting RSS feeds and updates from my favourite websites, then got a work blackberry and kept my personal cell phone. Suddenly, I had people contacting me from various sites- to varying degrees- numerous times a day. Then, Twitter came along. I have to admit, when I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever heard of. Why would anyone want to know what I was doing at any given time throughout the day, and more importantly, why the hell would I want to know what everyone else is doing? But, like everything else, I got into it and now my phone beeps when Brian goes to the gym and when Jonny has an awesome day. Great! I’m happy for you both. Now, what was it I as working on before my phone interrupted me? 

It’s increasingly difficult to stay in touch with people if you’re not connected to the online world 24/7. You will miss some update that your best bud sent a couple of days ago and then he’ll be pissed because you didn’t congratulate him on his good news. “Well, I told you about it!” Yeah, and everyone else! Then, of course, there was a lot of action going on both personally and in cyberspace that day so I didn’t have time to check, and by the time that I did, the feed went down so far I didn’t bother reading everything. Meanwhile, trying to put a good eight hours of focused work in at my job has become increasingly difficult. I find myself checking my various accounts numerous times a day because if I don’t I get home and Kevin asks if I have read that article by Redd, and then Craig texts me to see if I got the tweet about Trevor going to yoga: am I in, he hasn’t heard from me and the class starts in 15 minutes? I’m Sorry!

Sometimes I feel like losing it, like there is just too much information coming my way! I spend a couple of hours a day it seems going through people’s photos, those I follow on Twitter, Facebook updates, e-mails from people that require response in a timely manner (they usually end up piling up until I can set aside some time to formulate thoughtful replies- sorry everyone!) It’s too much! I can’t take it! I’ve got to get away! There’s more to life than this!

So it’s now been three months, that twinkle_sparkle account is gone because I haven’t checked it (oops), my phone no longer vibrates every five seconds with status updates and RSS feeds- and I’m cold, hungry, lonely, sitting on an egg, and been waiting for weeks in -50 degree weather for my partner to bring me back some half-regurgitated food from their hundred mile trek to the ocean and back. I wonder what Kevin is up to? Did Shannon get into that program she wanted? It’s Sunday, I wonder if Kieran took a picture of his food at Medina and posted the twit pic- I always love it when he does that. I miss brunch. Maybe this whole living like a Luddite with the penguins in Antarctica thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, ummm, I’m over it. “Stephen is HELP! SOS! MY GPS READS 102.45*W, 88.56*S I’M WITH THE PENGUINS, COLD, HUNGRY AND WITHOUT BRUNCH; QUICK! SOMEONE SEND ME A PICTURE OF THAT EGGS BENNY THAT I LOVE; JONNY, ARE YOU HAVING A GOOD DAY?” Is that 140 characters? Thank God for 3G.

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  • Matt

    I loved this article Steven. Well written and so very true. I sometimes find myself shutting out the “real people” in my life to make sure I follow what EVERYONE else I know is doing. I guess like everything else in life, moderation is key.

  • Love the article Stephen. I feel like this all of the time!! The solution is not to retreat to Antarctica…. Just drink excessively on the weekend (and select weeknights), all of your problems will be washed away! Just don’t throw your iPhone into the wash cycle too (or drop it while stumbling home after downing several Freshslices)… You’ll miss me tweeting on Sunday Morning about having gone swimming and to the gym.

    Seriously though, great article!

  • Great article Stephen! Don’t believe him though, he still has his “twinkle_sparkle” email… Just kidding!

    This is a great article though, it’s true that it’s super easy to get sucked into the numerous digital ways we all keep in contact these days. I used to be addicted- and I do mean ADDICTED- to my MSN. Eventually I just had to turn it off completely and uninstall it from my computer!

  • Stephen

    Thanks guys, oh and just for the record, my first e-mail account wasn’t twinkle_sparkle, it was [email protected]– and then Matrix came out two years later and everyone was like- Oh Morpheus, like from the Matrix, right? No, he’s the mythological King of Dreams- I used to get so angry… anyway, whatever I was like 15.

  • LOVE IT. My first email address was [email protected]. It was a King Lear reference, not a Manhunt reference. I swear.

  • Bahaha mine was [email protected]
    an xman reference.. and clearly an attempt to out myself combined 😛

  • I have been night_dude since i was 12
    I used to only go on at night time like after 6pm
    then it was just really lame for a while,
    and now im such a night person, that it fits again.
    full circle weirdness!

  • gay person

    haha funny article in a ‘so true, and how its written’ kind of way and cute comments.