When the internet service was unexpectadly severed from my existence as I finally made it home from work I began to wonder how much impact that this incredibly simple tool had on my daily life. I must admit that I’m one of those people who were left stuck in the “feature-phone” era (which lived and died in its infancy) and thus I was left completely cut off from the rest of the world as far as any of my friends were concerned. At the same time I’m a professional that lives and thrives from the hard work and toil of developing this none existant domain. I’m that guy in the background who fixes those awkward page navigations, the flow of content, the calls to action, the dreaded bloat of information overload. I’m a web developer, there are many like me, and I love my roll in the information sector. Yet here I am without my highway, my current, my wild crop — the internet.

I woke up to my fiance letting me know that the world came to a still. The modem was making funny flashing lights and nothing was working. She wasn’t as dramatic about is as I’d like to remember but the issue was very real. As with most work days I didn’t have the time or concern to worry about this problem as the main one at hand: get up and get going. I have to admit that after I got to work I almost forgot that my modem was flatlinning. As with most modern workplaces I had to check my email as soon as I got to my desk. Making through my day fixing this and that attached at the hip to my work e-mail and the server I didn’t think twice about my situation at home. Towards the end of my day I got a text from my fiance asking me if I wouldn’t mind her going ahead and calling our ISP. She was at home, and in the same situation as me: equiped with a feature-phone.

Sure, here’s the info that you’ll need.

Can you give me the number? Would look it up but can’t.

Of course I gave her the info while finally realising the full scope of the situation. I didn’t panic. I can’t panic, that’s not something that I was allowed to do growing up in a female dominant house(s). As part of the silent but (culturally) strong male minority of my family I said the only phrase I was taught to make in dicey situations, “Go ahead and call, I’ll figure this out and take care of it when I get home.” At the very end of my work day I got a sarcastic call from my lovely better-half that I pretty much expected. Transcribed as follows:

Hey, I have bad news. Apparently, they told me… our modem has expired.

Hold the phone! It expired? Did it have the expiration date printed on the bottom of the box? I guess it did look kind of ripe a couple months back, should have checked to see if the plastic was feeling a bit soft or something. Clearly, man-made physical objects come with expiration dates like produce. Gosh, I’m such an idiot for forgetting this ever-so important fact about human artificial technology that apparently grows out of the grownd and adheres to natural laws of decay.

Long story short: Someone didn’t want to work hard enough that day to provide a service and just opted out of the phonecall (ISP Rep). I called the ISP myself once I got home (if you get an “explanation” that seems ridiculous, call again to double check said ridiculousness) and got a much more plausible scenario: “We dun goofed and turned your crap service off, hur hur.”

Now that my little ripple in life is out of the way to set the stage for the real topic of the title, lets dig in to what the internet realy is in your immediate life.

Assuming that you have access to the internet all day, every day, and in all ways possible outside of work/school/home (your stupid smart-phone, Starbucks, friend’s house, etc.), you have the most ground breaking and simple tool at hand. It’s so powerfull that you forget how powerfull it realy is. It’s so common place that you begin to think that it’s a right to have, it very well should be at this point a law as far as I’m concerned (huge bias on my part, but I’m only one man). It’s utterly amazing and at this point most people have a hard time living a life without it to function properly. That last part should be somewhat alarming and equally amazing to anyone who is still reading this.

In the first world you, the heavily studied user of leading nations, have access to the World Wide Web (www) in several ways.

  • The traditional way (and my preferred) approach: home internet access - broadband, satelite, etc.
  • The second layer: wireless access - your phone, aka “stupid smart phone.”
  • The complimentary level: your job, locational services such as “free” wifi (think Starbucks), and wifi hotspots hosted by your wireless provider.

So basically you are almost guranteed to be trying incredibly hard to deny yourself access to the internet. As I quickly learned about the dubious innability of my ISP to grant me access to the service that I never requested to be put on hold, I didn’t have to think twice about finding ways to compensate my deficit of the “internets” at home. I was basically faced with a decision that rivaled finding what sandwitch place I should go to for lunch considering these key points:

  1. Situation at hand: How important is it for me to gain access to the internet - ie. work related, communication durring an important event, information gathering, etc.
  2. Location: How far I would allow myself to exhaust my resources to gain internet access.
  3. Effort: What am I willing to put up with or pay for to gain internet access?