Monday, November 11, 2013

How I became old-fashioned

There have been a lot of technological changes in recent years, and I haven't felt it necessary to adapt these changes wholesale.  As a result, my overall media consumption and telecommunications patterns are starting to look a bit old-fashioned.

Here's what happened:


I've found that I read about three times as many articles in print newspapers than in online newspapers.  Because you have to page through all the pages, more headlines and such catch my eye and I end up reading more articles, whereas when I'm reading online I tend not to dig deeper than what's linked to on the front page.  It isn't readily apparent to me online whether I've looked at all the day's headlines or not, and it's important to me that I at least see what the headlines are even if I choose not to read all the articles.

I do use newspaper websites too, of course.  There are columns I read regularly in papers I don't subscribe to, I look at how other media outlets are covering stories when I'm trying to get a full in-depth picture, and I often land on newspaper websites when googling things. But I continue to read my core newspapers in print so that my baseline news consumption doesn't get drastically reduced.


I also mostly read books in print, because I find I focus better.  I do use ebooks from time to time (when the library doesn't have something in print, when I want searchable, when I want to be able to read on my ipod), but I find I can concentrate and get into the story better when reading on paper.  (I'm more likely to glaze over when reading on screen.)

I also find I like the physical switch from sitting in my computer chair and looking at my computer screen - especially since I'm now working from home so I'm in this exact same chair looking at this exact same screen for nearly all my waking hours.  Don't get me wrong, I love my computer, but when I'm reading a book I sit in a different place, in a different position, facing a different direction, and escape into a different world.


When TV shows and movies are available on demand, I can watch them whenever I want.  So I end up never watching them because I can always get to them later.  So then, instead of being a nice break and bit of entertainment, they become an item on my to-do list.

However, if TV shows or movies are on TV at a specific time, then I'll stop what I'm doing if at all possible and watch them at that time because that's when they're on.  It's a perfectly valid excuse to take a break, and it's also a clearly circumscribed break.  No half-assed "I'll just game for a bit."  Nope, I game for the duration of this specific TV show, and then get back to what I should be doing.

For example, I'm currently watch 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation because they're in syndication on channels I get.  Twice a day, I take a half-hour break, and I'm getting through these shows at the rate of one episode a day.

However, United States of Tara, Big Love, Dexter and Arrested Development have been languishing on my "stuff I should get around to watching" list for literally years. Because they're no longer on TV or on channels I get, I'd have to get the DVDs from the library and binge-watch (because you can only take out a DVD for a week) or acquire them through unofficial channels.  But I can do that whenever, so I haven't done it yet.  The DVDs are languishing on my holds list and the shows are among the many things weighing down my mental to-do list.

I also don't feel any particular need to avoid television that has commercial breaks, because I have a long-standing habit of using commercial breaks to get shit done.  When I'm watching something and commercials come on, I start doing housework or, if it's close to bedtime, going through my evening routine.  I'm motivated because it's such a short period of time, so I get a surprising amount done.  I wouldn't be anywhere near as motivated or efficient if I just though "I'll do 15 minutes of housework now for no particular reason."

There's also the fact that I use TV for exercise.  The "if I can do it whenever, I'll never get around to it" thing holds here too.  I'll get down on the floor and do pilates because Pilates from the Inside Out is on TV.  But if I had DVDs or online videos, I'd procrastinate it.  And given how much I detest exercise, anything that gets me doing it is good.

Cable is a major expense and is high on the Things I'd Cut If I Needed To Save Money list, but fortunately I don't need to cut it yet, so I keep it for the structure that it gives to my recreational habits.


I do own a cellphone, but it's a cheap phone that's uncomfortable to talk on with the cheapest plan I could find.  (And for three years, I had a deal where I didn't pay anything at all for it.)  I use it when I need to get in touch with someone while I'm out of the house, but I don't like it for social conversation.  For social purposes, I very much prefer the landline.

The major advantage of the landline is it's in my home, not in my purse.  I'm only able to chat for social purposes (and for many business purposes) when I'm at home.  When I'm out and about, I've got shit to do and/or I'm already socializing with someone, so I'm simply not available for telephone conversations.  I do still enjoy long, rambling, high-school-style telephone conversations when both parties have the time, but I only ever have time when I'm at home.

I think one of the factors here is that I live alone.  I don't need telephone privacy from anyone else or have anyone else tying up my line (and back when these things did apply, it was the 20th century and I was a teenager, so a cellphone would have been an unattainable luxury for me at the time), so I don't have any reason not to use the landline, or any reason why using the cell would be preferable.


Many people in recent years have moved towards using texting for social purposes, but I still find email more convenient for many of the same reasons why I find the landline more convenient.  Again, I do use texting if I'm out and about and need to communicate with someone textually, or if I need to put textual information directly into someone's cellphone.  And when people text me, I do text back (eventually, once I'm within reach of my cell and have it turned on.)

But I find it inconvenient for purely social "Hi, how's it going, how was your day?" purposes, again because I'm only up for these purely social conversations when I'm at home, and when I'm at home it's much more convenient to write textual conversations on the computer.

I can type nearly 120 wpm (my typing speed actually went up after plateauing for years!) but I can only text at about 50 on a good day. The keyboard is also more conducive to using sentences and paragraphs and punctuation and such.  You don't need to press a extra button to insert a number or a semicolon or anything, you just go.  Plus, if I'm at home, I'm almost always at the computer so it's just a question of alt-tabbing to another window and replying, whereas if I were to text a reply I'd have to put down/stop what I'm doing, pick up another device, and painstakingly peck out a reply.

Again, this is also informed by the fact that I live alone and in a very small apartment.  I leave my computer on whenever I'm home and awake, I can hear any incoming email thanks to Gmail Notifier, and basically I'm never in a situation where using another device is more convenient for me than using my computer and I'm up for social chitchat.  So, again, I don't have any reason not to use email, or any reason why texting would be preferable for casual conversation.

But apparently all these things are starting to be seen as old-fashioned, and, from what I've seen on Reddit and such, younger people in their teens and 20s hardly use them at all.  But I'm well over 30 now.  I hope that makes me old enough to be a bit old-fashioned.


laura k said...

This is really interesting to me. I also have become "old-fashioned" in certain ways, in the context you're writing about here. But I find myself reluctant to admit it because of my age. Because I am constantly running into the assumption that people my age are technophobes, and I find the assumption insulting and irritating, so I want to dispel it, I find myself explaining (for example) why I prefer print books, why I prefer email to Facebook messaging, and so on.

Also, I no longer read a print newspaper, for a long list of reasons, but I absolutley know I see less news because of that. Sitting down and turning through every page, even when I only read a headline plus one or two paragraphs, I definitely saw more news than I now see online or through email lists.

laura k said...

I can type nearly 120 wpm

If you ever need a side job for extra income, you could get tons of transcription work.

impudent strumpet said...

Transcription is a thing?? Who are the clients?

laura k said...

It's a huge thing. There are a few different kinds. I did legal transcription, there is also medical transcription, and general work.

You usually get work through a transcription company. The company provides space and services for lawyers and clients who are giving a deposition. As a transcriptionist, I would get an audio file of a deposition, transcribe it, and return it. Later I might get it back with corrections and input those.

I also circulated my name to get private clients, like graduate students, leaders of focus groups, researchers or writers conducting interviews. Private work paid much more, since I set my own rates and there was no middle agency involved, but there wasn't enough work, so I also used the company.

There are many competing transcription companies out there. This is how I supplemented my income when I was underemployed.

It would be very tiring and difficult to earn a complete living doing transcription (although many people do) but it's very decent for supplemental income. You are usually paid by the page, so with your speed, it would be very cost effective.

impudent strumpet said...

All this time I thought it was the court reporters who did things like that! I've translated depositions and stuff before, and I never realized they were done by independent transcriptionists. (Of course, all the attention I paid to the transcriptionist's certification was just to delete it, because the transcriptionist isn't responsible for my translation.)