No no, this does not involve porn (thank goodness). The interlude I am about to describe instead illustrates my complete dependence on the Internet, and my state of mind as an expat who works at home alone.
Last Friday, my internet and phone connection went dead at about 6:30 pm. Right in the middle of a phone call with my mother. Not only was it frustrating not to be able to reconnect with her to finish our conversation, but I was supposed to go meet Matt and a colleague for dinner, and I felt suddenly that I could not reach him to confirm our date.
I am embarrassed to say that I lost my cool. I unplugged the phone and cable cord to see if it might reset the connection. I cursed the heavens and the cable company. I got very frustrated.
After some deep-breathing, and trying to read some stuff on my little laptop that I had downloaded earlier, I decided to leave the apartment. I would catch the bus and go to the appointed meeting place a little early, and I felt grateful that I still had paper products that would tell me what times the bus was coming (huzzah for SL’s bus schedule booklets!!).
However, some complications ensued: Matt called my cell phone (huzzah! still electronically connected to the world!) as I was standing at the bus stop to say that he and his colleague were stuck at the lab and had to cancel our dinner reservation.
At that moment, I really really really wanted a good friend I could call at the last minute to go to dinner with me. But alas, all my good friends are thousands of miles away — I really know no one here I could call out of the blue to meet up.
So instead, I went back home to see if the internet connection — and my connection to friends, family, entertainment, information, work, everything — was back online. It made me feel incredibly sad, even when it returned, two hours after it had blipped out.
The incident has me considering how women on the American frontier, back in the days before telegraphs and whatnot, stayed sane — perhaps they were too busy canning and caring for kids to have time for outside stimulus, or they re-read their favorite books again and again for entertainment and escape. I’m not sure I could have survived that kind of life.
I was tempted to name this post after Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It seems to me that an internet connection is one of my main needs at the moment — the ephemeral connections to friends and family members, alongside a steady flow of information from all over the world, renewed all the time, are important to my well-being!
I could argue that I am too electronically dependent, that I have lost the joy of being connected to the real world and real people. (Hey, at least I don’t have a Crackberry.) But the more pertinent lesson here is not about my dependency on my connection to the ether. It is how much I need people, love and family, in addition to good work and a roof over my head, and how hard it is to build that when you have moved to a new place. Time will heal this problem, I hope, even if the cable/phone company never figures out its problem with service outages.