Well it happened.
Starting at 11pm last night, in the height of my late night musings and when my “career away from my career” is in full swing, the dreaded yellow symbol shows itself on my wifi signal, and none of the usual steps resolved it.
You know when you’re right in the middle of some burning discovery, juicy information, and unstoppable progress and then it all stops cold. It’s like you’re running, hitting amazing stride, and some invisible hand holds you in place and you can’t run any further.
Since when did the internet become so important, so vital? What happened to me? I felt like my 1 year old son when he doesn’t get to pull out the plug on the wall and has a little fit. But being somewhat of an adult, I couldn’t whine and scream, and there’s no mommy to hear me and distract me with some other toy.
So off I went like a pouty little baby to the bathroom, took a shower, and hoped when I came out, clean and sparkly, that my internet would welcome me back and I’d get to dive right back into the madness.
Unfortunately my hopes were dashed as that little showed up everywhere and wouldn’t go away! It was on my browser: “ Server Not Found.” It was on my email program: “ Can’t access email account.” It was on my status bar. “ No Internet Access.” And each tab on my browser replaced their favicons with that symbol as if to say, “You get nothing! You get to go nowhere and see nothing…nothing nothing NADA! ”
Fine. I’ll be a good girl and go to bed. I sulked and jerked the covers over my body and felt my heart beat fast. Eventually I dozed off, mired in thoughts of “What did I miss?” “How did I want to finish that line?” “What should I work on tomorrow?”
The Day Begins Quietly
When I woke up this morning, after changing, feeding and playing with William, I took another look, I knew something was wrong. I had to make the dreaded call to the internet provider.
So after going through the automated prompts I had to be transferred to an agent. No help there – I needed a technician to come out now. A technician? This could mean hours, I thought, staring wide-eyed into the distant blank wall.
After trying to call them several times for updates (I’m immune to the inevitable phone customer service part of life), eventually I learned I would have to wait another 30 hours for a technician to come tomorrow afternoon. It seems an eternity.
But something is bothering me. I keep thinking how far we’ve gone to rely so much on the world wide web. It’s our access to so much. Sure. But it’s more than that. It’s taken over our senses. It’s an addiction to having something to communicate with, not just accessing information, but also giving information. The internet is our friend and lover. After all, I’m pretty sure if the internet did not exist I would reach out to my friends more and vice versa, I’d hear from them more–and, I’d demand more of everyone.
Somehow, it’s taken over. I don’t know what this means, and if or what the ramifications. I only know the feelings I experienced when I realized the internet wasn’t going to be easily available for 36 hours. A mixture of relief and anxiety.
But then I’m also part of a generation that can easily remember when the internet was not there, when we had to fill our time with other things. When if we needed to figure out the time a movie started, we called the theater, or checked the newspaper. When we had answering machines with time limits. When we wrote letters and sent them in the US postal mail. Letters written by cursive hand. I hear nowadays kids aren’t even taught cursive anymore in many schools. Our noses were in books, not laptops and phones. When we couldn’t think of a famous person’s name or some trivia tidbit, we waited patiently until it came into our heads maybe a month later. “Oh yeah!” you’d triumphantly cry in the middle of dinner to your bewildered companion. “James Woods!” “Ah yes” they’d nod in response, fully understanding you were simply recalling a forgotten fact from last month, and not assuming that you suddenly acquired Turrets Syndrome.
The internet is amazing. It’s full of information, much of it useful and valuable. We can buy anything. It gives us transparency, it feeds competition, it has something for everyone.
My father, a classical musician who used to spend his free time recording vinyls to mix tapes and cataloging them for himself, if he understood or knew about the internet and its capabilities, would be amazed at the access he’d have to information about artists and recordings. He could read about favorite athletes and order favorite books.
My grandmother Sarra passed away before the internet came in bloom. She was an expert at so many things: engineering, sewing, crocheting, knitting, cooking, health, tai chi and qigong. In addition she had a beautiful contralto voice and could sing any song. For some reason she had a basic understanding of how to play basic melody/harmonies on the piano.
It doesn’t end there. Add to that – that when she was in her 80’s she learned Spanish from scratch and learned to speak fluently. She did this by using a Russian/Spanish dictionary and grabbing Spanish books from the library and writing notes for herself. She could draw well too.
She was a unique personality, a razor sharp mind, an unapologetic man-eater. She had her first child (my mother) during a siege in Russia and tons of life experience she could share. What would she have made of our internet? Perhaps she would have had an empire.
The internet seems a haven for people of diverse and specialized interest – who can share and offer their unique qualities. But I realize as I talk about my family and particularly my grandmother, that I should also remember the internet should not be the interest itself. As Louis C.K. jokes: “Stop tweeting – just live your life.”
We have to remember to live. Offline.
Thank you for reading “Can You Live Without The Internet For A Day?” Are you finding yourself too hooked to the online world? Do you have ways of stepping away sometimes?