General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Okay, So I Was Wrong...

by Jennifer J. Rose

Take it from a Luddite, I hoped personal computers would go the way of the hula hoop. And I even found an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that backed me up. But finally, four years ago, I caved in and bought my own PC. I liked all the fancy fonts, and the italics looked so "uptown." Now I'm hooked; my conversations are peppered with CTRL, RAM, and 1.6 mg hard drive.

Then along came the Net, the CB radio of the nineties, I assured myself. I had a zillion reasons not to go on-line: I didn't want to do legal research on-line, I didn't want to form meaningful on-line relationships, and I had little interest in cyberporn. Besides, my phone bills already exceed the monthly GNP of most developing nations, and I hardly need another distraction--pretty much the reasons articulated by folks who weren't sure they needed a telephone: "Why, Myrtle, jus' 'bout any ol' stranger could ring ya'p anytime o' the day o' night. Probably Communists, too..."

The crystallizing moment came when someone asked me for my e-mail address. I felt like a phoneless eighth grader who'd just been asked for her phone number by a really cute guy. Back in the eighties, I felt that way when someone asked me for my fax number, but I could fake the fact that I didn't have one by saying it was on the blink. I couldn't imagine how to fake an e-mail address. Then I discovered there were some really dumb people on the Net, and I figured, Heck, if they can do it, so can I.

As it happened, my first session on the Net became a 14-hour marathon, and it was as fantastic as any first-time experience has ever been (first fax sent, first solo drive, first LSD trip...). I went to Istanbul and toured in virtual reality. I read the San Jose Mercury News and Novedades. I found the Child-Head homepage and the Doberman index. I even figured out how to download all of the "O.J." transcripts and the full text of the Magna Carta and NAFTA. Time flew. Imagine the entire inventory of Barnes & Noble tossed on the floor, pages torn out and strewn about, or the really interesting contents of somebody's trash can, or what it feels like when you read other people's mail. Who has time to worry about practicing law in the face of that?

Now, checking my e-mail has become an obsession. When I was out of town recently, I was so anxious about being away from the Net that I considered haunting cyber-bars. And I'm seriously thinking about creating my own homepage. It all happened so fast--in less than 24 hours I became an Internet junkie.

But fate intervened about a week ago: I was playing 3D pinball, waiting for a Net connection, when my monitor started smoking. Ever since, I've been Netless. I've been reading books, realizing that the Net does have its drawbacks. It's hard to get to it from the sofa. You can't curl up with it in bed. And it's probably not safe to take it into the bathtub. All true. But that doesn't mean I won't be back on-line in a couple of days; They promised me my new monitor will be here soon.

jjrose@shenessex.heartland.net is otherwise known as a sole practitioner in Shenandoah, Iowa.

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