I have never thought of myself as a huge fan of technology. I get annoyed at people who spend too much time staring at their tablets or cell phones; I prefer to shop at real stores rather than buy things off the internet, and according to my son, I have absolutely no understanding of what Wi-Fi is. So I was a little surprised by just how much my life was disrupted recently when a storm that blew through town knocked out my cable and internet connection for over two days.
At first, I didn’t mind when I realized that the cable was out, meaning I couldn’t watch television or log on to the internet on my computer or phone. For one thing, I was just grateful that our house had power, since so many of the homes and businesses in our area didn’t. (Some lost their power for days, ours was out only for two hours.) And I kind of liked the unexpected break from technology, especially since it meant I had more time to do things like read a good book and tackle some of the chores that have been on my to-do list for a long time. I never quite realized just how much time I wasted “surfing the net” until I suddenly couldn’t do it anymore. And I may have lost my instant access to the news, but that meant that I was also less stressed and worried than I usually am when I actually know what’s going on in the world.
For a while, I was feeling a little smug about how well I was coping without my cable TV and my internet access. But I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very long before I was also feeling a bit anxious. We had no service on Thursday, which is one of my usual days to publish a blog post. I actually began to fret about not doing that, as though thousands of readers around the world were going to be logging onto my blog, only to be disappointed to find no new post. Worse, I had no way of reading or commenting on the many blogs I follow, and worried that I might be offending my fellow bloggers by my absence. (Because no one can possibly feel they have a successful blog unless they know I’m reading it, right?) I’ve gone “off the grid” before, but I was always able to let people know ahead of time.
I was supposed to go out to eat with some friends, and wanted to call the restaurant beforehand to make sure they had power. My first thought was to check their website to get the phone number. Only I couldn’t do that with no internet, and I also couldn’t remember what I did with all my old phone books. I needed to buy airline tickets for an upcoming trip, but I knew I didn’t have the patience to try to do that over the phone, since it seems that most airlines have exactly three customer service representatives answering their phones these days and calling them usually means waiting on hold for a day or two. In short, I kept thinking of things I needed to do, and wanted to do, but no longer actually knew how to do without the help of the internet.
Which brought me to a rather startling realization. I may not have any idea how my computer or cell phone actually works, and may believe that WiFi is something that exists solely to allow me to play solitaire on the internet, but I have become just as dependent upon technology as everyone else. I like to think of myself as an old-fashioned sort who has a “take it or leave it” attitude towards technology, but that’s just a sham. I never thought it could happen, but I’ve become addicted to the internet. And as far as I know, there’s no twelve-step program to help me cope.