Late Sunday morning we had a hellish storm here. I just beat it across the Whitman bridge into New Jersey, which was a good thing; one feels like he is sitting on a lightning rod on metal bridges during thunderstorms. Everything cleared up and I went about my business, finally settling down about ten o’clock last night.
Got home. Time to check email. “That’s what you think,” said my computer. Couldn’t get online, not even the slightest signal. Played with the routers for an hour; got the holy water and the crucifix. Nothing. I think the storm might have had something to do with it.
Today I and one other person spent most of the afternoon trying to fix this. We were almost successful. But as my father says, almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and manure spreaders. (Rustic humour, that.) Meanwhile, the emails are piling up, and I have lost all track of the news. Blackberrying doesn’t really make up for this very well, particularly since Blackberries are slower than dial-up internet. This all becomes frustrating after awhile, not least because of all the failed attempts at fixing the problem.
Throughout this so-unimportant, completely over-stated ordeal, I’ve been thinking about my friends in South Park, Colorado. There was once an episode in which everyone for miles around lost their internet connection. Even Starbucks didn’t have it. Everyone piled into their cars and RV’s and headed for an “internet refugee camp” in—where else?—the Silicon Valley. This show highlighted our maniacal attachment to the internet in many ridiculous and perhaps even tasteless ways, and I have felt a slight bit of guilt in the past day or so for being so frustrated with such a non-problem, as compared to world hunger or the predilections of the State to butcher its children in gluttonous wars, etc.
My guilt, however, would seem to be based upon an outdated, mid-Nineties kind of outlook when it comes to the internet. Yes, getting upset about not having connectivity for one night is probably a bit childish, but after a day I do think I’m entitled to some frustration. The internet is not, as so many people think, just all fun and games. I do much of my work online, and how I realized it today when I couldn’t do most of it! I contact my singers, find music, plan programs, and advertise my various goings on strictly through the internet. Puritans love to gripe about the web and the supposed distractions it causes, but the truth is that it improves our productivity and expands our contacts: I work in much larger networks than my grandparents did, even more than my grandfather who was a master at creating his own good-old boy cadres.
Early this evening, after coming face to face with failure, I had no choice but to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling, wallowing in utter defeat. I will spend yet another evening in the 20th century. I picked up the TV remote, tried to turn it on, and recalled that I had unplugged it. Make it an early 20th century evening. Now the internet refugee camp doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. So I’m sitting on the sidewalk at one of my favorite cafes, and in about ten clicks in the first fifteen minutes here, I accomplished far more than I had all day.
You never appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore, they say. I think it’s true. It’s true about things, and it’s true about people—even the ones you think you appreciate. I am far more grateful for the internet today than I was yesterday. Now, let’s hope that the cybergods heard me say that and that tomorrow will bring new vistas of productivity and efficiency.
And a little distraction isn’t so bad, either.
Thanks for allowing me to bitch.