Can You Survive A Month Without WiFi? I Can’t.
*Updated to add new info*
I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed as I sit with my kids on a park bench across the street from our favorite pizza place, essentially stealing their WiFi. The kids may not look so bad with their tablets and leappads, but I’m perched with my laptop on my legs on a park bench for goodness sake! Who does that? In my defense, the restaurant is closed during the day so I would have gone in if I could. It’s also been 34 days since we’ve had WiFi and the withdrawal symptoms are serious.
I’ve come to realize that my dependence on the World Wide Web (as the old folks call it) is nothing short of ridiculous. Social media aside, I’m a hard core googler. I Google everything from stain removal, to world politics, to math problems that I can’t quite help my daughter solve. Being without WiFi has essentially stripped me of my ability to be informed, knowledgeable, and yes social.
Not having WiFi has made me think about how I survived before the internet, WiFi, and smart phones. I know I’m showing my age here, but when I was younger we had AOL with just about the slowest dial up system ever, and it couldn’t be used if someone was on the phone. It was ridiculous. I didn’t have a cell phone but I had a beeper, where I thought it was ingenious and clever to make numbers into words like “hello” and “I love you.” When I went away to boarding school I spent hours reading and writing letters from friends and boyfriends, and although the communication wasn’t instantaneous, it was certainly all I needed.
Now I feel like I’m missing out on so much, like I’m uninformed in a world where information comes at you in 5 minute intervals. We finally have a tv in the house, but there’s only one or two channels that play English language programs and none of the news shows broadcast in English. As a result, I feel like I’m living in a bubble and the world is passing me by. Is WiFi really that important? Maybe not to some people, but when you’re living in a foreign land, with a foreign language, it’s damn important!
I have things that need to be researched and preparations that need to be made for the summer. I’m trying to line up a job, summer camps for the kids, things that really require more than a phone with painfully slow local data coverage. My daughter reads digital books and needs the internet to download them. The younger kids use Abcmouse.com, which really helps to supplement the school work I’ve been doing with them at home. I don’t get them excited about doing work but ABCmouse does and that’s important. I recently learned that ABCmouse actually has some games that can be played without wifi and I’m so wishing I knew this during those agonizing 34 days (those games are ABCmouse Zoo, ABCmouse Music Videos, and ABCmouse Mastering Math).
I also like to stay connected to friends and family, either through Facebook or wireless calling on my phone. When my husband is gone every other week for at least 5 days it gets lonely just having the kids as an outlet. Social media keeps me connected to the world. I enjoy reading the many political posts and the discussions and arguments that play out on my screen. Even though I don’t rely on Facebook as my sole source for news, it often is the first place I find out about something newsworthy. From there I get to googling and can be informed from a number of different perspectives.
That’s just not something I want to do on my phone. My husband doesn’t mind surfing the net on his phone, but it’s something I really dislike. So without my trusty laptop I feel lost in the way of current events, and I feel disconnected from the friends and family that I usually talk to while I’m cooking, walking, or just bored. If I had some WAG friends here it wouldn’t be so bad, but since I don’t I need the net!
It’s also put a wrench in my quest to finally learn Spanish. Half my family speaks Spanish and it’s about time I got it together and became fluent. I had been dedicating an hour or two every day to study using the free online language center Duolingo.com (which is great for most languages btw) and by their calculations I was 37% fluent after a month of study. I’ve never been 37% fluent in anything! I posited that I’d be a native speaker by the time June rolled around. But alas, my language dreams have been crushed. I did pay $15 for a Spanish language phone app, but it’s just not the same.
I’ve concluded that even if I didn’t grow up with the internet and all the glory of WiFi, I sure as hell need it now. The internet age has changed everything — the way we communicate, the way we seek knowledge, the way we read, shop — the list is endless! So while I do admit my dependency, I don’t feel the least bit bad about it and I’ll never take it for granted. I still take walks, and exercise, and play board games with my kids, and talk to my husband. I definitely still stop to smell the flowers, but I need that World Wide Web in my life!