Just like an extra hot grandé mocha… the addiction starts a sip at a time. And you don’t even know it. You don’t even realize the cost — just like that steaming cup of coffee — it’s so smooth, so gradual – so available, so everywhere, so chíc. An isolated instance — not a big deal; not a great expense — not initially.
Sometimes when I hear the rumble of the caffé steamer I think of the early days of the internet connection tone — choooooooooooo, clang, clang, clang, clang – chooooooooooooooooo, click: Welcome, You’ve Got Mail!
Life’s going on – you think maybe everyone out there has a friend and you wish you had one, too. Everyone out there is doing something great and you wish you were, too. Everyone out there has people cheering them on, telling them the latest news, showing them the latest trends — everyone knows the latest stuff — everyone’s so awesome — well, everyone except: the lonely, living in a crowd, Mrs. All Alone.
O, sure, she had her husband, her Bible studies, her home — she had some friends, she had her family, she had a few hobbies, she had radio Bible programs and talkshows, she had cassettes and study books and Gentle Spirit magazine, but she still felt lonely — oftentimes pretty unimportant. She didn’t have a television or VCR – and almost never went to the theaters.
And then along came the computer — initially only used for business, she realized the great value and ease of using the computer for writing homeschool assignments or women’s retreat talks and keeping other “documents.”
And then… what’s this? What’s this new adventure? E-mail?!?!? Letters without paper, envelopes, stamps or days between writing and receiving mail!?!?! In the beginning, few of her friends indulged in the new method of communication. And if they did, in the early days e-mail notes were short – almost cryptic. Brevity was sort of the protocol. Rare and brief. Initially.
So, Mrs. All Alone began to explore the vast possibilities available to her at her fingertips! Voilà! She decided to look up “key words” that best described her life: She clicked Ask Jeeves. And instantly he answered with gusto! Here you go. Look at that: links to things she liked — though in those days there were relatively few websites for homemaking, Bible studies, Titus 2 & Proverbs 31 topics. Unbeknownst to Mrs. All Alone, she was embarking on a journey that would soon swallow her up. She didn’t even realize that, just like the one sip at a time Sbx addiction, one click at a time, she was sealing her fate.
Those were the days before Amazon or Wikipedia or Myspace or Facebook. Long before blogs (gasp!), Twitter and Skype — even before Gooooooooogle became a verb. Those were the days before Starbucks and espresso stands dotted every corner in Snohomish county. With the advent of internet bulletin boards, lists and groups, Mrs. All Alone could, with just a few clicks, instantly become: Mrs. You’ve got Friends! Friends all over the world. Just like that.
In a matter of minutes Mrs. All Alone has 10, 20, 650 girlfriends expressing the very things she’s been feeling, dealing with or experiencing as a stay-at-home mother of many – yet feeling unheard, unknown, unappreciated, unqualified, unremembered, unremarkable and sometimes unloved — all alone in the world.
She couldn’t wait to log into the computer! Each day, much to her amazed delight, her email (then: “e-mail”) inbox was flooded with letters from friends, sisters in the Lord — other mothers of many. Mrs. All Alone quickly became Mrs. Alone No-More. For now she had friends — understanding friends — likeminded friends. Hundreds of them — all over the world — women (and unfortunately men who posed as women – but that’s a story for another time) who shared common interests in faith, biblical studies, home and family, marriage and faith. Some actually became genuine friends.
Mrs. Alone No-More read all she could, wrote all she could, researched all she could — lost in time as she read and wrote articles and letters. She soon realized she might be able to help other women — by pointing them to a collection of many Good Things so they didn’t trip over the bad things on the Net. A new vocabulary: ” justa sec” and “justa minute” dotted her conversations in the kitchen. It was a great time of learning and application — but somewhere along the way it all got out of balance.
Many years passed. Though many good things were happening, just a few minutes here, just a few more minutes there, time was passing — seasons were passing. Going along, working alone… on studies, articles, news, letters, webpages, blogging etc. A new kind of alone… a distracted alone, a missing in action alone. Life was going on all around her, but so addicted to good things — so many good things — time was evaporating, years were passing — she didn’t even realize just how distracted she was.
And then came the day of reckoning.
(part two: The Day of Reckoning… later)