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September 20, 2007

Just Another He Surfed/She Surfed Story

by Matt

My wife and I spend our evenings – after the kids are in bed, of course – pretty much glued to our matching PowerBooks. Friends of ours, also parents, refer to time spent like this as "parallel play with laptops."

If you didn't look at our screens, you'd think that we were both up to the same thing: working, checking email, surfing the web. But if you stop and listened for a while, you'd hear more clickety-clack from Jordan's direction than you'd hear from mine. A lot more.

That's because, of course, she's busy writing, for this blog and her own. And composing emails, no doubt. And occasionally IMing with one of our handful of friends who even know what IMing is.

And what am I up to, over here

on the couch? Clicking. Scrolling. "Humph"ing about some news story in my RSS feed or lauging about a Karate Kid video that someone sent me. Not much typing going on at all, as my feeble attempts at blogging can testify.

In short: same laptops, same Interwebs, different evenings. Jordan is using blogs, groups, email and social networking sites to build a community for herself, one that overlaps with and extends her meatspace community. Every blog post, every comment she leaves on another mom's blog, every email strengthens a bond with a real person.

Me? I'm hitting the refresh button on Google Reader, looking for instant gratification in the form of up-to-the-microsecond news about Apple, the Giants' sorry excuse for a bullpen, or how Merlin Mann is using index cards today. I'm consuming, not connecting.

As for why our time online is so different, chalk some of it up to differences in personality; you don't have to be Meyers or Briggs to know that she's an extrovert and I'm an introvert. Also, Jordan's more reflective than I am – she can turn the day's events into something pithy and thoughtful in the time it takes me to remember what I had for lunch.

Whatever it is, I admire it and wish I spent my laptop time differently. Hats off to you, Jordan.

How do you use the web? Is your laptop a souped-up TV, set to consume whatever you point it at? Or is it a tricked-out telephone, helping you reach out and touch someone? Do share.

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