Not using the internet for 48 hours isn’t the same as not being able to use the internet for that length of time. Even politicians (who are notoriously slow at figuring out what people need) have started to make noises about this being an essential aspect of life. Some (many) things you just can’t do without connectivity. And during a pandemic taking an entire family to an enclosed space with free wifi (still a rarity) for over a full day so that they can get things done is an issue. All of this has convinced me of the need to purchase a wifi hotspot, in addition to relying on what Astound Broadband (formerly RCN) is able to provide. (You see, I’m in charge of a Sunday morning program at a local faith community. I couldn’t even email anyone to let them know I wouldn’t be able to show up on Sunday without using costly data.) Now that service has been restored, a kind of nervous normality has returned.
This has been a learning experience. Of course we’ve got books to read. I have papers, stories, and a next book to write. None of those, ostensibly, uses the internet. All of them do, however. I’ve been conditioned to look things up on the web while I’m writing. This is true of both fiction and non; a fact needs checking, a reference requires look-up, a thought occurs to you that has to be dealt with before you move on. There’s an email you forgot to answer. Etc. Etc. The web is our source of news (what’s happening with Ukraine?), our phonebook, our map, our encyclopedia. Let’s face it—it’s an addiction. But a necessary one.
Like many things, our government has the capacity to make internet access available, just like they could do our taxes for us and stop the madness of setting back clocks each year from Daylight Saving Time. They could ensure universal health care. They’re too busy “defending” a crumbling, pre-internet way of life and enriching themselves to actually enact any of these things. And somebody would have to figure out what accountants would have to do if taxes weren’t an issue. I strongly suspect people would still be willing to pay for more than basic internet connectivity. But to have a basic signal out there that we could tap into without tapping out our data plans would be a real boon. I found myself glancing at our neighbors’ houses all around and thinking, “They have internet.” We pay a lot to have it too, but the only company in the Valley can’t guarantee access, especially on a weekend. What have I learned? The ascetics were onto something.