A week or so ago, the unthinkable occurred. The internet connection in my home went down. Panic ensued. My youngest son, who is taking summer classes, understandably complained he couldn’t do his homework. My husband couldn’t work from home. I couldn’t connect to anything…not email, not the Atlantic Highlands Herald, not Ebay, not facebook. Nada. The earliest available service appointment was days away. My family was off the grid.
According to my sons, living without the internet was unbearable; however, for me, life simply plodded along as it once had before technology transformed the world into one complex, interconnected village. Without the internet, when I needed to know something, I looked it up the old-fashioned way: in a book. When I needed the spelling of a word, I blew the dust off the dictionary. My old Betty Crocker cookbook replaced allrecipes.com, and the daily newspaper or the evening news returned as my source for current events. Though I missed communicating with on-line friends, I got along just fine without the internet.
That’s not to say that I didn’t do a happy dance when a very helpful Verizon representative repaired a broken telephone wire (hubby accidentally cut it with the hedge clippers, but that’s another story!) and restored our service. I quickly signed on to see what I had been missing in cyber-space.
Apparently, I missed all the on-line hoopla surrounding the birth of the royal baby and the speculation regarding his name. While I wish William, Kate, and baby George well, my reaction to the new royal was a yawn and a less than enthusiastic “whippee.” The internet attention focused on baby George’s arrival, Kate’s polka-dot dress, an alleged homage to Princess Diana, and her still apparent baby bump elicted nothing more than a “been there, done that” response from me. Sorry, royal watchers. Women give birth to babies every day; George, though princely, is no more remarkable than his infant peers.
I was also absent for the weightier on-line debates surrounding the Zimmerman decision, the appearance of the Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on the cover of Rolling Stone, and the shocking (and sadly comical) re-appearance of Anthony Weiner on Twitter. Thankfully, I missed all the jokes about Weiner, as well as the laughs at troubled Amanda Bynes’ expense.
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What, then, have I learned from living off the grid? The internet is an expansive, powerful thread, an integral part of daily existence. Yank the technological rug out from beneath us and we scream, the younger generation quite loudly, the generation born into a smaller world of black and white televisions, phone booths, and transistor radios, perhaps less so. The internet, to me, is a blessing that enables me to reach other people through my columns and my books, to perhaps make a few folks smile through the pet portraits I paint and sell, and to forge new friendships with individuals I never would have “met” otherwise. Life off the grid taught my kids they can’t live without the internet; it taught me I can live without it, but I don’t want to.