Ironically, having just written about routines, we experienced a power outage with a wind storm. Sitting home of an evening, the lights in every occupied room began to flicker. We grabbed flashlights, suspecting what would come next. The power outage led to a temporary loss of the internet, the god of this age. Routine was interrupted. This brought to mind just how fragile all this is. As supply-chain issues have demonstrated, everything has to work just right for our society to operate at expected standards. And an internet outage leads to an interruption of routines. Whenever this happens, it reminds me of how complex our lives have become. And how unfair. There are people across the world who struggle with daily necessities such as clean water, safe homes, and reliable sources of power. And a wind storm in eastern Pennsylvania doesn’t mean that the company’s power in another state is out. Does this mean I take a vacation day?
As this winter winds down I again lament the loss of snow days. They were local holidays, of course, and based on the unpredictability of nature. Our power outage, followed by internet outage, was a personal kind of snow day. Nobody wanted it and we all planned to work today. Other than the outage, we’re fine. Just like a snow day. There’s a feeling of helplessness to it. To fix the internet we rely on someone who knows how to do such technical wizardry. Anyone can stuff a rag in a hole in the window, but to replace the glass it takes an expert. How do you contact them when the internet’s out? (Of course, everything’s back on in time for work.)
No doubt, many aspects of our lives are better. We can pay our bills without using a stamp. We can look up basic information online. Even attend religious services virtually. (Who doesn’t want to linger in their pajamas on a Sunday morning?) Yet, for all of this to happen our power must be on and steady. Our internet connectivity must be strong. We have to be able to connect to work so that we can be paid so that we can keep the power on. It seems an odd way to spend our time. Obviously, if you’re reading this they—that mysterious they—have got things working again. The power is on so that I can type this, and the internet is connected so that I can post it. And yet I don’t feel any more secure. And I know I’m one of those who has it easy.