Being connected to a worldwide network of instant information is a curse as often as it’s a blessing, especially for the stay-at-home writer type who is easily distrac…OOH SHINY.
One hugely positive aspect of the Tubes, however, is the vastly improved shopping. Just now, the UPS truck dropped off a case of Black Raspberry preserves and honey habanero mustard. The preserves are from a place called Dillman Farm in Indiana–their black raspberry stuff has been our favorite jelly for years now, and it’s well worth the $6 per jar. All that tasty goodness, trucked in from Indiana, and delivered right to our doorstep in rural New Hampshire, with no driving around or lifting of boxes involved on my part.
Shopping for more expensive stuff like electronics? That’s even better–not just because you can comparison-shop, but because just about every online retailer features customer reviews for their individual products, actual user opinions and experiences rather than optimistic marketing copy. When I had to replace the fried Linksys router, I had originally planned to pick up a basic Belkin, but after reading a ton of very negative reviews on the very model I had in mind, I chose a Netgear router instead that had much more favorable user opinions. From the privacy and convenience of my desk, I can comparison-shop, read up on actual user experiences, and then order the item from my retailer of choice, to be delivered at the speed I choose. If the item doesn’t work, I can box it up again and send it back the same way–no time-wasting trips back to the store necessary.
Yes, it does make one spoiled, but Intertubes shopping is a gigantic time- and money-saver. For some things, I prefer brick-and-mortar stores, because some stuff you just have to touch and try to see if it works for you. For most commodity items, when you know exactly what you’re going to get and how it’s going to work out, the Great Link is the superior shopping experience by far.
Of course, the utility of the Internet would be greatly enhanced if I could also get all the essentials shipped directly to my door. Maybe one glorious day, when the regulatory beast has choked on its own tail, we’ll have a more Probability Broach-like capitalist frontier where I can purchase a new belt-fed automatic weapon, a case of good rum, a shed-sized nuclear reactor (“For True Energy Independence!“), a dozen sticks of dynamite, a box of Cuban cigars, and a hundred grams of pharmaceutical-grade Colombian marching powder…and have them all arrive on the UPS truck two days later.