Even though I haven’t gotten out of my hometown all winter I have still managed to keep in contact with friends and family. Thanks to the internet I keep in contact with my old friends via Facebook. And I’ve made several new acquaintances that would be friends if only we lived in the same town through the forums and groups I participate in. I’m involved in a few futurists’ pages as well as some science pages. I guess I really don’t interact much with other writers or bloggers, not as much as I should. I used to belong to the Nebraska Writers’ Guild but I let that membership lapse as there weren’t many guild members living near me and few of the guild members were my age or younger. I guess even mentally ill people like to spend time with people similar to them.
With my Wal Mart special smart phone I keep in contact with family members a couple times a week. If my dad happens to be in town, he will send me a text message asking if I want to have lunch with him or mom will ask me if I want her to pick up something from Wal Mart.
Speaking of shopping, I don’t really buy that much in traditional stores. I still go to the all night supermarket to get groceries every couple weeks. But even there I find out about their sales and specials through the store’s web page. I still get my psychiatric meds through a traditional pharmacy. But even there I get automated reminders that tell me when I’m due for refills. The only time I actually deal with another person is when I go to the pharmacy to physically retrieve my refills. Even that may become a thing of the past in a few years if automated pharmacies and delivery drones pick up traction.
Most of what I buy anymore outside of groceries, fuel for my car, and basic home items, I now buy online. When I buy books, it’s online. When I buy computer games, it’s online. When I buy movies or tv shows, it’s through amazon’s digital service. I get all my music online through spotify. Most of my tv watching is done via youtube or netflix. Many of my computer games now have online support and updates. I now buy most of my clothes online as I do have rare sizes. Sure it is a little more expensive, but I can find exactly what I want as long as I’m willing to look. As much as I appreciate second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, even they can be a roll of the dice in terms of finding what I need.
Comparing what I spend now to what I spent several years ago on my living expenses, I’m now actually spending less than I was ten years ago. With my social security disability pension being what it is, I make less than fifteen thousand dollars per year. Even though that puts me below the poverty line, at least by American standards, I don’t feel poor. I have access to treasure troves of music that would put any music collection of twenty years ago to shame. Thanks to wikipedia I’ll never have to buy an encyclopedia set. Thanks to online clothing stores, I don’t need to settle for clothing that doesn’t really fit or doesn’t look good on me as long as I keep my measurements up to date. Thanks to online news and entertainment, I really don’t need cable tv. The only thing I use cable tv for anymore is live sporting events. Even at that I watched some college football games online last year. So I really don’t need to buy a ticket, navigate a crowded stadium, and sit in the freezing cold to watch Nebraska Huskers football anymore. I can sit on my own couch, grill my own meats, and not worry about anyone blocking my view or having to go down several flights of stairs to get to the restroom. I’ll keep watching sporting events online even if I really have little interest of seeing them in person. Unless, of course, the Colorado Rockies ever got back to the World Series or if the U.S. ever hosted the World Cup soccer tournament again.
I can get even medical advice online anymore, thanks to services like WebMD. I can type in my symptoms and see if what ails me is serious enough to go to the doctor or not. So I don’t usually have to go to the doctor unless I’m really sick or my mental illness problems are really out of line. I haven’t had to go to the psych hospital in over three years but it is good that the option is still there. Since I spend so much time online, I have developed some friendships with people I’ll no doubt never meet. And I get to post about mental illness and it’s ups and downs in a forum that didn’t exist even twenty years ago. Twenty years ago I would have had the same thoughts, but no means of recording them for a public audience. I would have had to suffer in silence if I had these problems as recently as the 1980s instead of the 2000s and 2010s. We are living in a totally different world than the one I grew up in during the 1980s and early 1990s. And I’m completely glad for it. I can hardly wait to see what other cool stuff and finding come out in the next twenty five years. Thanks to the internet, I can watch this new world unfold and take root from the comfort of my own living room and not even leave my small home town.