Anyone who read my post from a few days ago knows that we recently lost our power. Ok, no biggie, it came back on about two hours later. I lit candles and we ate a cold dinner. We survived. It wasn’t like we were in some faraway land without power or running water. At the end of the day, it was a minor nuisance. If I had to choose among modern conveniences powered by electricity I might pick the vacuum cleaner or the stove or the washing machine. I might want to have indoor plumbing or central heating. This is not a hard choice in the middle of winter: Internet or heat. I don’t really want to start chopping wood and building a fire to keep warm. And then there’s the risk of lighting your house on fire. We forget that fires were an everyday hazard of life before electricity.
So, to keep the story short, when we woke up the next morning — that would be Wednesday, we discovered that while we still had power, we had none of those things we need to stay connected: TV, Internet, and the home phone. I’m going to remove the phone from this equation because we have cellphones.
What do you do when you don’t have any Internet? There are certain things that happen online that you need for everyday life. I had to make sure I had enough money in my checking account to make the automatic mortgage payment. You can do that on a smart phone, but it’s tough because everything is really really tiny. Note to self: next time your contract expires get a larger phone. I don’t watch TV, so that didn’t bother me, but my husband couldn’t watch any sports. OMG!! But yes, he survived. We get the local newspaper, so he checked the scores in the morning. Verizon said they couldn’t make it out until Friday, so we braced ourselves for two whole days without connectivity.
We are fortunate to have a library in our little town. Not every town has one, in fact, most do not. Soon after lunchtime on Thursday, my husband packed up his laptop and went to the library to hunker down with some free WiFi. In our defense, we actually did have some time sensitive business to take care of; it wasn’t just about online shopping and catching up with friends. I had a meeting with my volunteer organization, so I went early and used their WiFi. With a smart phone and some ingenuity you can do just fine without Internet at home. In fact, we got other things done without the distraction. With the phone off we didn’t get any of those annoying calls asking us to replace the windows or buy into a time share.
In our modern world when people expect things immediately, waiting for two days to get reconnected can seem like a lifetime. On the other hand, in some ways it was liberating to cut the cord and fill the time with other more productive things. Am I saying that time spent online is wasted? Not exactly, but if you think about it, couldn’t you use some of that time in different and more creative ways? I found myself reaching for a book or my knitting rather than seeing what was on sale at Amazon. And those gazallion emails I get every day from every store I ever shopped at keep me from what I really want to use the Internet for: connecting with friends and family and getting and sharing information.
The Verizon guy came this morning. Apparently a number of our neighbors had the same problem so he kindly came earlier than we expected. The problem was the surge protector on our box. The same storm that took out our electricity blew out the box. It was a ten minute job to get everything up and running again. We need to buy a UPS to protect it from power surges in the future. A generator may also be a good idea this winter if the power continues to go out. I can live without the Internet, but I really really really don’t like to be cold. That’s where I draw the line.