Remember when the internet was optional?
I remember asking people in college back in the early 1990s, did you get my email? Email was a novelty, something fun to try out, but real business was done with phones and voicemail. I remember going to the University Administration Building to print out emails on dot matrix printers, because the way to keep an email was to print and file it. Later, the internet became a way of accessing odd cultural niches. I remember printing out the script to Monty Python & the Holy Grail – someone had transcribed it in all its glory.
In grad school the internet became a necessity. One day the internet went down in the university apartment building, and we all wandered outside, blinking at our neighbors. On the internet we researched and posted and blogged. Even now I find it hard to unplug. Despite the good advice about turning off the internet for effective writing, I still seem to need to check a word’s definition, a date, or a title, and then the internet is turned back on. Wikipedia, the world’s greatest fact checker.
Recently, after years of trouble, our internet service provider replaced the wiring to our house. Suddenly we had constant, fast, glorious internet. Things churned away, slurping data and syncing information. Work was done, emails were sent, photos were backed up, songs danced in the cloud, and Netflix cheerily told us stories. Everyone was happy.
Sometimes the internet breaks, goes off, or we go camping. The camping goes mostly fine since the No Internet is expected, but when the internet breaks at the house on a normal day it’s pretty surreal. The house has a heart attack – things are blinking and chirping, panicked that the world has ended and there is no more data. Work is not done, TV doesn’t work, and nerves are frayed.
But then the internet comes back, and everyone lives happily ever after (it seems the future isn’t so bad after all).