Wednesday, June 17, 2009

China Disconnect

I knew my return from the Middle Kingdom would be a shock. The time-change (12 hours), the food (...what, no pickled beets for breakfast?), the sheer number of Westerners.

But I did not anticipate my greatest shock: Plugging back in.

In China, I was unplugged, in part by choice and in part due to the location. I did not bring my laptop or cellphone with me; and even when I was at a computer, the Great Fire Wall of China did not allow me to surf the Internet in a normal manner.

Therefore, when I woke up in Vermont yesterday morning (...okay, afternoon), I anxiously waited as my computer booted up and my browser popped up with my bookmarks: Blogs, news, Twitter, Facebook, comics, and e-mails.

[Oh, the e-mails. One address alone had over 100 unread messages, many of which I have no idea how to respond as I've been out of the loop for 14-days. Some face-to-face time with the senders will improve my response time. At least, I hope.]

But I hesitated. I hovered over my Twitter log-in and thought, "Would it hurt to push this off for just a little while longer?" It's difficult to go from such an acute connection to the digital world to an all encompassing one. For two weeks, I blogged on my trip to China via e-mail and that's it. No Twitter, Facebook, or RSS Feeds. I'll admit that the initial severance was disorienting - where was my connection to the outside world? The answer to that question turned out to be, "Right outside your door." I talked to people. I walked, climbed, and Skyped with them. Interpersonal communication was my mode of connection in China and I got accustomed to it.

So accustomed, in fact, that the prospect of reconnecting gave me more than a moment or two of pause. Did I really want to open up the new media can of beans again?

Yes. Yes, I did. I updated my status on Facebook, Tweeted my adventures, and logged on to this very blog.

China disconnect over; Vermont connection complete.

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