Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 23, 2006, Herald Journal

Don’t listen to the sirens

By LIZ HELLMANN

What is the price of gas in Kaunakakai, Hawaii?

Click.

What is the San Antonio Spurs record?

Click.

Just how much can I save at the L.L. Bean Winter Sale?

Click.

What will Brangelina’s (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) baby look like?

Click. (Yikes!)

What are the eight most common problems with old houses?

Click.

The Internet is an amazing tool. You can find out anything, except why the rapper Eminem’s ex-wife would remarry him after being cursed out in almost all of his records.

But with a visit to the MSN home page, you will find out that they are getting remarried.

Along with this juicy tidbit of info, dozens of other links await – crying out to you at your desktop.

You only want to check your e-mail, but you can’t stop. Like the sirens beckoning to the great Greek legend Odysseus, you are seduced by their call.

Click me! I have the answer to the best first date ever!

No, click me! I will resurrect your old classmate from the depths of my yearbook files.

Still others shriek with the latest headlines and gossip headlines from around the world.

Unlike Odysseus (who tied himself to the mast of his ship so as not to give into the sirens beckoning him to come closer to the dangerous rocks that would shipwreck him and his crew), you are not restrained.

No ropes hold you back. You are a slave to curiosity.

Is Felicia really returning to Desperate Housewives? You must know.

Never mind that you don’t watch Desperate Housewives, you can still be ‘hip’.

What if it’s all the talk at the water cooler mid-morning and there you are, with nothing to say, again? You’ll nervously gulp down your water and walk away, just as you feel the cold sweats coming on. If only you had surfed the Web!

Wishing to avoid this humiliation, you click on it.

Several minutes later, you have your answer. You’ll be so smug at the water cooler today.

OK, now it’s time to get to work.

But, wait.

What’s this?

Another link beckons to you.

The worst dating shows ever?

You don’t need to know that. But it lists The Dating Game in the link, smiling at the afternoons you spent with your fro and polyester leisure suit watching the honeys fight over a pole with sideburns, you’re intrigued.

It wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at the list.

It’s so easy. The mouse slides across the screen, the link playfully lights up as the arrow lands on it.

Just one tiny finger push-up away, the answer awaits.

Click.

Ah.

The urge satisfied, you glance at the clock. 10:30 a.m.

You only just got to the office!

Looking over the gray walls of your cloth prison, er, cubicle, you notice the crowd dispersing around the water cooler.

You missed break time!

Stupid Internet.

It’s the middle of January and 20 degrees out, but the sirens still managed to sink your ship.

One of these days, you will actually set your browser window home page to your e-mail. But not today. You have to play catch-up with the two hours you just lost.

You work solid until noon. But as you work, you use the Internet to look up various facts, such as the mailing address for a company you are working with, and how to spell Odysseus for your column.

Your friend calls and asks if you would like to go to a movie that night.

You respond by asking what’s playing. They quickly scan the Internet and report a list of all the movies playing within a 15-mile radius, along with times, prices, and reviews.

Agreeing to meet at the Duplex Theater, you print off a copy of directions from Mapquest.com.

It’s been ages since you went there.

So, I guess the Internet can be handy.

In fact, I don’t know what people did without it.

It takes a while for me to think back to a time when there wasn’t Internet. It seems like such a natural part of life, like cars, or sliced bread.

I’m not sure when, exactly, the Internet was invented (although I’m sure I could find out by searching the web, but then I’ll get distracted, and I’ll never finish this column).

I think it was invented shortly after fire.

First there was fire, which allowed people could see in the dark, so they could work long enough to invent the wheel.

Then, the cavemen were so excited they could roll around, they got together more often to brainstorm, and presto – the World Wide Web was born.

But, like all technology, it is only as useful as you make it; like all habits, as addicting as you let it be.

Today, it got the best of you, as you whittled away two hours of productive work time, and will now have to come in on Saturday, Office Space (the movie) style.

But it was well worth it as you slide next to your coworker, Ted, at lunch, prepared to impress him with your current events knowledge.

As you tell him all about Felicia’s return to Desperate Housewives, he nonchalantly picks up his tray and heads back to work.

“I already know,” he says. “Bonnie told us all about it at the watercooler this morning. Where were you?”

Stupid sirens.


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