Friday, January 07, 2000

Where have all the mothers gone?

If you read enough about the internet, you'll get a lot of opinions about who's using it. You'll hear about business people using it to start up companies or advertise their services. You'll hear about young people using it to do their homework or download bootleg music or hook up with pedophiles. You'll hear about singles using it to meet strangers for romantic purposes. You'll hear about marrieds using it to meet strangers for romantic purposes. Shoppers use it for shopping and crazed fans use it to follow their favorites and movie buffs use it to gossip and terrorists use it to plot the end of the world. But what you never hear about is what I believe to be the largest single demographic of Web users: Mothers who use it to hide from their kids.

Face it, it's tough for moms to steal leisure time. Sit down on a sofa with a magazine and you're sure to have a child in your lap in less time than it takes to turn a page. Try to watch TV, and you can bet there will be something else on that someone else just has to watch. But sit at the computer...well, hey, you could be doing something important. You could be working. You could be writing a letter to the editor or a letter to the principal, you could be compiling the minutes of a meeting, you could be researching a medical issue. Or you could be doing online crossword puzzles and downloading pictures of Antonio Banderas, but who's to know? That's the beauty of it. A simple, "Honey, I'm working now. Go watch TV." gets the kids out of your hair ever so much more effectively than "Honey, if I don't get some time alone I'm going to scream." It works with spouses, too.

I guess I should be glad that we're such an underappreciated demographic, because publicity would certainly blow our cover. We'd have to develop our reflexes to flip to something serious if anyone enters the room, just like common office workers. We'd have to purge our browsing history after each session, lest prying eyes discover our surfing habits. And we'd have to invent cover stories on a dime: "No, really, I was just checking our prescriptions against the Mayo Clinic's database. I have no idea how those pictures of Antonio Banderas wound up on our hard drive. Interrogate the children!"

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