There are many things we take for granted in modern life. For me, the fact that I have a home phone line which merrily transports conversations with friends and runs my internet connection, seamlessly, is one of those things. Until a rather dreary Wednesday in January that is. Back from work and having fired up the laptop to check emails I noticed a sudden lack of connectivity with the World Wide Web. And with my email… in fact with anything that required an internet connection. Thus I entered the many circles of hell that constitute getting any service provider to a) actually provide a human that can communicate with you because b) your query does not actually fit their fully automated service system and c) they will in all probability not do the thing they say they will.*
So now, 3 days into my enforced digital detox, I have started to fully appreciate how much the need for a constant internet connection has infiltrated my day-to-day life. Let me count the ways:
- Making an appointment with British Telecom for an engineer. They suggest you do this online. In order to do this I need a phone line. In order to have a working phone line I need an engineer. The irony is apparently lost on BT. (Although I have just discovered in a BT Wi-Fi hotspot I can access my fault tracker notifications. Phew!)
- Email: Life without instant access email is starting to feel a little frustrating. I am experiencing a deep “fear of missing out”. I know nothing is actually happening that I need to absolutely know about right now, but that is not the point. Stuff may happen. And I may not know!
- Paying bills. The post-Christmas credit card mountain needs addressing. Vague memories of phone calls and passwords. I have no idea what they are any more. Or cheques, they were pretty handy. 3 more bills have arrived in the post this morning. It’s becoming a credit card nightmare.
- Catch up TV. Made it to Friday after a long first week back at work. Let’s just watch some of the programmes I’ve been too tired to bother with. Err, TV says no. It needs a fully functioning internet to do that. Back to re-runs on Freeview then.
- General knowledge. I have a query. I think to myself, “I’ll just look that up”. Err, iPad says no. It needs the internet to even consider finding Wikipedia (other information services are available). I try to think what I did in the olden days BC (before computers). It was something to do with books. Or asking a librarian. However, by now I’ve completely forgotten the original question.
- Travel information. I need to get to a nearby’ish pub to meet members of a (here, I’ve just thought of a word but want to check the meaning. I shall have to pause while I go and find my rather unused dictionary instead of a quick google)…OK, members of a nascent writers’ critique group. There’s a bus – but I just can’t recall which one. I could simply check on the Transport for London bus info on-line…! I am reminded of a recent conversation with the teenage niece in which we laughed at the old fashioned notion of phoning up a real person to ask what time a train left a station. I drive instead.
- Updating my blog posts. Not essential, I suppose, but tending my seedling blog is another addiction!
- Working from home. We may now have work blackberries but you try accessing the impenetrable Department for Education website on one of those. As I have managed against all odds and a slow Wi-Fi connection elsewhere to book a telephone engineer for Monday morning, I’ve had to bring all the things I will do whilst waiting via an old fashioned USB key. No working in the cloud here!
- Words with Friends. Sorry friends. I’ll catch up, I promise.
- Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/any other social media. See No.2.
- Renewing my library books. I cheated in the end and took the ipad to work again and logged into my library account from there. A colleague sensibly pointed out that I could have phoned them, but the idea of going through another automated call system was more than I could bear!
- Supplementing my mobile phone data package. I am now actively rationing my megabyte allowance! I don’t think it’s ever got this low before!
As the days have gone dragged by, I have surprised myself at how many times I automatically reach for the iPad to look something up, check something or just use an app. Whilst I can obviously recall a time without the WWW, I am discovering that it is actually quite stressful not having instant access to it! In fairness, I do have a mobile phone which will allow me to access some of the things I would go on-line for, but my carefully selected data package is not massive because I mostly use my internet at home.
It makes me realise how much of a “digital immigrant” or in fact probably now a “digital native” I have become without even noticing. And that’s a scary thought!
*I have evidence! “I will send you a text with contact details so you don’t have to go through the call answering system”. He didn’t.
©Chez l’abeille 2015