An unfortunate twist of fate, also known as I think the landlord didn’t pay my telephone/internet bill, rendered me without internet service for an entire 4 days. This, incidentally, was after Wikipedia and other websites went ‘dark’ for the day in protest of proposed legislation in the United States on piracy and copyright infringement. Life without internet meant that I had to actually leave my cave and face the world, a feat I only tackle when going to work. I have morphed into a homebody who simply can’t be bothered with life on the outside. Fortunately, there are several cafes near me that offer wifi. So, I didn’t feel so cut off from the world, just inconvenienced. However, you pay a price at these places; I could opt for the super expensive cup of tea for 45 minutes of timed internet usage at Starbucks or a cheap cup of tea for unlimited internet usage with a shabby connection at a non chain cafe– you take your pick. For the past few days, I choose a healthy option of both.
Once in my cave there was nothing there to keep me company – no stereo, no television – only the lesson plans I was tired of working on, a book by Salmon Rushdie that I didn’t have the mental capacity to read, the four walls of my studio, the strange sounds coming from the flats around me, and my laptop. I could do so many productive things, but instead I pop in three of the only English DVD’s I have and watch them on repeat. The line-up was Daddy’s Little Girls, Kings of Comedy, and Bridget Jones. I’ve seen all of these movies countless times. This time, however, I had the time and desire to watch all the deleted scenes, special features, preview of other movies, director’s commentary, and anything else featured on the DVD that under normal circumstances I would not even dare to watch.
By the time I got around to writing about not having any internet, my internet was restored. But what if there was no internet? I’m not the first to pose this existential question. The great writers of South Park tackled this question in one of my favorite episodes as posted below (** warning – South Park is raunchy, not for the faint of heart, vulgar, politically incorrect, not suitable for children, and just plain wrong**).
I can’t imagine life without internet just as I can’t imagine life without computers, telephones, cars, woman’s rights, bras, or a host of other modern things that I have gotten quite accustomed too. As the episode in South Park alludes to, however, there tends to be an over-reliance on the internet and therefore the internet has rendered us handicapped to a certain extent; we are no longer able to differentiate between real life and the unreal as we create relationships in our head through internet dating and internet porn, we create our own avatar through places like Facebook and Twitter assuming characters and identities that we are afraid to pose in real lift. And what about the transfer of knowledge? Undoubtedly, the internet has allowed us to communicate with each other at a faster pace. Look at the Arab spring and the use of Facebook to get the message out, but long gone are the days of researching things in an encyclopedia or books. Now, we get our information from Wikipedia – where people like you and I can insert what we believe are ‘facts’ about a subject.
While the internet has bolstered the way we think, do business, and has eased our life – I think I need to take some time, every now and then, to unplug, sign off, disconnect, and go-off line so that I can have a taste of what it is like to exist in the real world every now and then. Although I was steaming mad, I am grateful to have had a few days of silence with just myself, Bridget, and that ever so fine Idris!