In this article 3 friends from Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom write about their reactions to having no internet for a day.
A day without internet
A flashback into 1984. Moscow, USSR. I am ten. Windy and cold November night. Going to buy second-hand mountain ski and launch my career as mountain skier: it was my dream.
Making a phone call to a store. Then to another. Then to another. Got it: the model I need available, Yugoslavian ‘Mladost’. Taking a bus there, riding it in the dark, then get out and walk a few more yards. Coming into the store. It’s gone! My dream is gone! Some lucky bastard just bought it a few minutes ago. It was time of total deficit in the Soviet Union… Since then I’ve never tried mountain skiing…
- At school (sixth grade) we buy and sell poorly developed, blurry, black-and-white pictures of Western pop and heavy metal bands: Duran Duran, Ozzy, Kiss. These are copies of the copies of the pictures taken from some Western music magazines. Sometimes it is hard to get the image at all, so bad is the quality. The cost is three roubles. In comparison, a school lunch is 30 kopecks, which is a Soviet equivalent to cents…
- Post-Soviet Russia. Getting a Christmas postcard and some printed pictures from my French friend, we spent together a year at Baylor University, Waco, TX, as foreign exchange students, from August 1993 to May 1994. Her name is… Tahiry Razafindramiadana, she is of Madagascarian origin with a very exotic exterior, too. I am glad to get a message from her and this bright-looking postcard is like a reminder to me of the good times we’ve had back in Texas…
Today, it would have been totally different, of course. You get the information just googling it, in seconds, right from your chair! It is an easier and much faster world. Much more comfortable. To write a paper as a student you don’t have to go to the Russian State library located in the historical building in the center of Moscow, spending there uncounted hours…
But sometimes I miss those dark wooden tables covered with green cloth, its old-fashioned lamps, its sounds of pages being browsed and its atmosphere of Academia…
You don’t need to browse it anymore. You’ve got a browser now.
A day without Internet
I liken it to when you are an addicted smoker – you are enjoying a sumptuous meal in a restaurant, but all you are really concerned about is how long until you can have your next ciggie – only then can you satisfy your craving.
When I lose my internet supply, my only thought, irrespective of what activity I then decide to pursue, is: when can I get back online?……pathetic I know but that’s how it is.
Sometimes of course, you know in advance that you will be off-line for some time – for instance, on a plane when you travel with those old-fashioned and out-of-date airlines that don’t have Wi-Fi; or in my case recently, on a cruise ship.
Yes, there is internet on the ship, but it’s usually appalling quality and prohibitively expensive. Just not worth it. But accepting that fact comes at a personal price.
First thing on waking, check last night’s football/cricket/tennis/any other sports results, and then read the reports and reaction. Can’t.
Waiting to see if our latest blog had been published. Can’t.
Any reply to my political campaigning back home? Who knows?
I follow people on twitter who are knowledgeable on subjects that interest me. That will have to wait.
My early morning internet activities include reading my favourite blog sites, finding out what family and friends have been up to, and of course, the latest news from around the world. Not easy without Wi-Fi.
And, being British, the most important thing of all – the weather forecast. Just have to stick my head out of the window for that one.
During the day, something always crops up in conversation, and you hear those immortal words: “Google it!” Imagine having to go 24 hours before you can find out the answer to a question – quite medieval if you ask me.
Utter frustration, bordering on anger, and complete helplessness are the feelings that come to mind when I am denied my human right of internet access!
Should it be like that? Of course it should.
A day without Internet
Long ago, in a galaxy that’s now far, far away, I used to like to go down to McDonalds each morning and order a Sausage, Egg, McMuffin. Now, I wasn’t there for breakfast; I would carry a copy of The Washington Post and read for perhaps 45 minutes. I was there to relax before starting my day and read all about the world around me.
I’m sure over the course of a couple of decades, I have ordered enough number two meals to pay for a small car. No, I do not believe I would like to trade all those quiet mornings for a car. That was how I started my day for most of my life. I consider myself well informed on many subjects precisely for that reason.
They say it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I cannot argue the point: as I write this I have some breakfast in front of me and I’ve been reading Google News, hopping from site to site. It’s quiet now… I’m alone and that works.
So the only thing that has changed in all these years is everything. My country even has a President who has tried to issue orders to the US Army via Twitter. The Generals wisely told him to issue a real order and they would obey.
Someone once said that trying to disconnect the Internet would be like unwiring electricity. Once people have it, they will not willingly give it up.
Unfortunately I can tell you about a day without the Internet: last week we had two of them here at our house. It went out about 8:00 and came back on at around 16:00 (4:00 PM if your a Yankee). Evidence would seem to indicate that I survived the ordeal because I am writing this, but I was not a happy camper.
Writing this article requires all three of us to have access and you also need access to read what we have written.
My Daughter lives in America and from time to time, I am fortunate to chat with her via Skype, on the Internet.
To conduct almost all my business, even down to checking an account balance, requires Internet access.
I do not understand why most employers insist employees come into an office when home would be better. What matters is the amount of work completed, not how high an office lease bill you can create.
From time to time I read about some intrepid journalist who goes a week without Internet. Fool.
To read more of the RUSUK friends’ views, please click here