34 minutes offline: A Tragedy

What have I done!?Friday night. I am cooking and watching a documentary on the birth of language (cartoons) on my laptop. I am slicing a cucumber when I am struck but something odd, and it takes a moment for it to register. It’s silence.

I look over and sure enough the screen is frozen and I have that initial jolting reaction, as if something has just tugged on my leg in the Atlantic Ocean. I go to the computer and fool around with it, check settings, check signal. Everything seems OK. I check the router and the signals are fine there too. But when I click a link, it says I am offline.

Another five minutes of curse-laden exploration shows that my WiFi signal has now disappeared. I am getting a black exclamation point on a yellow triangle, the international coat-of-arms for: Sir, you are 100% f*cked.

Houston, we have a problem.

I attack this emergency with my signature blend of angst, panic, and melodramatic eruption. The next few minutes are a blur of sweat, stress, and strain. There are colorfully worded vulgarities involving every bodily orifice, function, and output, and there is dangerously high blood pressure. Basically, imagine Homer Simpson’s reaction to a dropped hotdog.

What can I do without the internet? It’s Friday night, how else can I have fun? Go out? Yes, but outside is scary. It’s real. I can’t just minimize the screen if something I don’t like starts happening. Moreover, people exist outside. And it’s raining.

I try watching a show on the television, but this is hollow comfort. I find that the inability to scan twitter or comment on a friend’s post in the middle of a sitcom makes television simply non-interactive entertainment. This is no good. Reading? I could read a book. And I try this, but find that every so often (i.e. 4 times every 11 seconds) I am up and disconnecting wires, pushing buttons, and restarting the computer.

It’s been 21 minutes without the Internet. I have worn an ovular pacing path around my living room and considered all the things that are happening in the world without my immediate knowledge. I am so disconnected; I should call someone to make sure the world hasn’t fallen apart at the seams without my watchful gaze. I send glares at my useless computer every now and then. My tirade eventually wears itself out and I sit on the couch in flaccid disrepair.

Aside from the lack of connection, my anxiety resides on another level as well. See, I spend an awful lot of time mocking those who have a desperate attachment to technology: aka students. In class I am ruthless with students who gawk into their phones and tablets. Upon handing out tests I demand that they shut off their phones, snidely joking that the school has hired psychologists to help them cope with being disconnected for an hour.

And now it seems that I am no better.

In addition, this is not an isolated incident. I have been finding that I am more and more reliant on technology in my day-to-day life. I hesitate at doors that need to be pushed open. I am baffled when I can’t move a cursor to a word in a paper book and check the definition. And the other day I wandered around a darkened restaurant bathroom for a whole minute before I realized I had to turn on the light manually.

It’s been 33 minutes offline. On top of not being connected, I now feel shame. What’s more, I have nothing to distract me from this shame, such as cat videos, internet quizzes, or people singing Kanye West’s tweets.

In the last 33 ½ minutes, the technological emergency and its resulting realizations have forced me to see an unpleasant side of myself and face some harsh truths. I am now eating a big dish of crow with a side of my words. I declare a change. I promise to wean myself off the technological narcotic.

But at the moment, I make the only move I can; a move that people often make in times of acute crisis. I go to the pub.

Besides, I think they have WiFi.

  1. #1 by Mary Widdicks on March 24, 2014 - 2:17 am

    Ha ha ha. I love that your solution to the problem of technology addiction was to drink…while going online. Two wrongs never make a right…but you can always drink ’til you just don’t care ;-). Although, I hear you on the technology addiction. I can’t watch tv anymore without multitasking. Except The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. I wouldn’t sully their greatness with my twittering and tweeting.

  2. #2 by Amber Lite on March 24, 2014 - 2:39 am

    Dude, love this one! 34 minutes? I never would have made it that long!

  3. #3 by Mirkitty on March 28, 2014 - 4:28 pm

    this was the funniest post Damien, I like it very much! :)))

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