It drives me crazy sometimes, the degree to which we have all become slaves to technology. It’s true the technology we have now improves our efficiency and makes communication easier and adds lifestyle conveniences we could never have imagined outside of an episode of The Jetsons.
But sometimes I think that all that time spent staring at a three-inch screen is time taken away from our humanity, if I may be permitted a grand sweeping vista for this moment. I pass people walking in downtown Toronto who are staring at their phones watching Seinfeld reruns while they walk. Seriously.
Really, is your existence so bereft of stimulation that you need to watch 20-year-old sitcoms while you walk from the train to your office? Or is it that Seinfeld is just so damn compelling and socially timeless that it’s worth bumping into strangers over and over and over en route to work?
Anyway, that wasn’t even my point.
My was going to be about what happens when the technology goes away. Like it did in my house last night.
A modern day horror story, no less. A fate worse than death.
There was a thunder storm yesterday afternoon and there was a resulting brief power failure. When the power came back up, our home wireless network didn’t follow. For a while, this was no problem.
Imagine a small fire in the fireplace and an ember rolls out onto the floor. Easy to deal with, right? By the time I got home, that figurative ember had engulfed most of the main floor and we were on the verge of all being lost, a Fort McMurray about to engulf Glen Abbey.
Patrick — who was home early from landscaping work because of the storm — had already called Cogeco and was now onto a call centre for the Dlink router manufacturer. Good morning from Bangladore.
It was slow and painful but after more than an hour — including Pad handing the call off to me because he had an eye appointment — Dlink said the router (new last August) was cooked and they would give us a new one.
OK, sounds good, I think. They committed to sending an email with precise instructions on how to replace the dead router and thanked us for our patronage.
So then the email arrived and said to get a replacement we (meaning I) needed to ship the old router back to them, allow them time to examine it, and then they would ship a new router out. And don’t forget proof of purchase.
In other words — August. OR worse. For sake of argument, let’s just all agree that I rarely swear. But the air around my head turned bluer than usual last night. Dlink had crushed my spirit.
Wireless internet is just about as necessary here as water and electricity. No wireless means — for Laura — no work. She works from here and internet is not an accessory. She needs it.
No wireless means everyone’s cell phones default to LTE or 3G, which chews through our paid bandwidth packages.
No wireless means no streaming video services like Netflix and no online game play for half of the summer population of the house. Which means people might have to have actual conversations.
No wireless is a pain in the ass.
Hungry, tired, grumpy and feeling a little stressed, I put Chris in charge of cooking dinner and headed for Best Buy and bought a new router. I mean, really? We’re going to go weeks without wireless? I don’t think so.
So $70 lighter and another hour of my life lost to the soulless wasteland of consumer electronics, I plowed through the door, handed the boys the new router and said simply: “Make it work.”
They were more relieved than anything else. The phones, the online gaming, the Netflix … it was all coming back as soon as they did what needed to be done.
Make no mistake — I KNOW HOW to set up a router. I just didn’t have it in me last night to do it. I had a beer instead, which I don’t often do on a school night.
This router actually set up two networks — one faster than the other, don’t ask me why — and when I went to bed last night the home-based Geek Squad was trying to figure out why we seemed to be able to log in to only one of them, even though they had identical passwords.
I didn’t care. I still don’t.
I just resent the time away from my family the technology sucks when it does work — so many hours spent scrolling email or Twitter or Facebook. And I resent the fate-worse-than-death prospect of living without wireless.
How did we come to this? Entire generations of Canadians were raised and prospered without the Internet. The Nazis were defeated without iphones. People walked on the moon without YouTube.
Yeah, it’s cool to be able to instantly find out whether Canadian Tire or Home Depot has the beast price on garden mulch, but maybe I’d like to just sit and have someone ask me how my day is, without staring at an iPhone instead of me.
I didn’t even finish the beer. Talk about a fate worse than death.