My Internet has been down since the morning of February 7 and, at the time of writing this on February 14, the problem was ongoing. So much for the “we will send a technician in three to five working days” promise made by my service provider. Imagine in this day and age that policy still exists, though. Life certainly is not on in that regard.
To be honest, this experience has taught me that in as much as I frequently threaten to drop everything and get off the technology grid for a few days, I really can’t do it. I feel completely lost. As lost as Hansel and Gretel wandering through a forest of technological frustration. All the devices and gadgets are there, but it’s like they serve no purpose. And to make matters worse, a few months ago I had cancelled my mobile data plan and opted for a call-as-you-go plan because I saw no need to keep paying for a data plan when there is wifi just about everywhere.
So basically, it meant that because I could not possibly work from home. I had to get up, get dressed, spend at least two hours in traffic to the office and back. And while I was at home, I had no way of getting quick information, no Netflix, no social media, no YouTube. I had no idea what mischief Fallon was up to in the latest Dynasty episode, had no idea what was trending on FB, unable to communicate via WhatsApp, nothing. When it came to helping my son with homework, I was unable to Google fast answers and had to resort to old school methods of guiding him along. It was either I read and re-read the method to change a decimal into a fraction until I grasped the concept (never did at school), or phone a friend (easier option). And while I did get time to do quite a bit of reading, my tech withdrawal symptoms were bad, to the point where I felt like the walls were closing in.
This whole experience got me to thinking, if my old Gen X tail, which is tottering on the borders of barely understanding the technology and embracing it, was having such a hard time coping with the absence of said technology, what can I expect of my ten-year-old who knows nothing else? Who, it seems, knew everything there was to know about an iPad from the day he was born. Who was so confused the first time he picked up a landline and heard a dial tone. “Aunty, come and hear the strange noise the phone is making,” he had said as he led her in earnest to where the fixed line was plugged in. Who assists me when I’m having problems with my computer and phone, very impatiently, mind you, because I’m “too slow”. The same kid who, a few weeks ago sat with his manual and set up his new PS4 with zero assistance from me because I didn’t know how to begin to help him. How can I now expect him to do things in the same way I did them?
I recall about a year ago he was doing his Vocabulary homework, and instead of using his hard copy dictionary he googled the words and wrote down the meanings. I, of course, insisted that he do it the traditional way – the way I knew how. “You won’t have a computer and Internet service in the exam room to Google the words,” I told him. “Neither will I have a dictionary,” he countered. “You are always saying I take too long to complete my homework. This way is easier and faster,” he pressed. He beefed up his argument with the fact that he knows how to use the dictionary in case there is a tech failure. He was right and I relented. Because lets face it, there is no going back to doing some things the old school way. Things like hard copy encyclopedias and dictionaries can now be deemed pre-historic.
So, I thought, if I have suffered so much from this experience, I can only imagine what he must be going through. How can I reprimand him for being in a foul mood because he can’t hook up with his friends on the PS to play Fortnite? Or because he can’t get some well-deserved time off after lessons to binge on one of his favourite Netflix series? Or that he can’t chat with his friend Isabella in Ohio on WhatsApp? I understand that reading, outdoor play etc are important and that there should be a limit on the amount of time children spend on screens. But just as my generation and the generations before and after had that special something that was “our life”, technology is this generation’s and we can’t fight it. No wonder he reacted as if there was a death in the family each time I threatened to sell or give away his precious devices as a form of punishment. After this experience, I will have to be a bit more lenient with my threats. Note to self, stay away from “sell” or “give away”.
As for my former Internet service provider, I thank you for the lesson, but I’ve learnt it well enough. I don’t want or need a repeat.