Wednesday, February 22, 2012

life without Internet connection

When the ICE agents walked away from our house that morning, we were left with no Internet connection. It was immediately obvious to us that life would be more difficult without it the first thing we needed to do was to find a defense attorney. We dug up a phone book and started in the yellow pages. The problem with phone books is that they no longer hold all the information; real information lives on the Internet. Many businesses don't even bother listing in the phone book anymore. Finding a defense attorney is not something we knew how to do and now we were unable to use Google to find "how to find defense attorney." We found the attorney in the phone book, however--we went with a defense attorney we'd seen interviewed on TV.

We explained to the kids that we were going to be without Internet and they took in the news with no complaint because they understood why it was necessary. We told them that the attorney had advised us to keep the Internet out of our home and none of us were about to argue with that advice.
Since then, we have become accustomed to going to the public library when we need to use the Internet. The kids like going to Starbucks once in awhile, and when we realized that the cost of an occasional frappuccino would still be less than the cost of Internet access at home, we agreed. Even after adding in the cost of printing articles at the library, we come out ahead financially. It will take several decades of this cost savings to offset the attorney's retainer, though.

Like most people, we were used to using Google maps or Mapquest when we needed to drive to a new address and we can't do that anymore. No more quick looks at a restaurant menu before we decide where to go for dinner. No more quick searches for the best price or for movie showtimes. No more email! No more videogames played online. By the end of summer, we were adjusted to the idea of waiting until the next day when the library opened to find out what a kinkajou looks like. We make lists before we go to the library to make sure we don't forget which bills to pay or which question to answer.

When school began and all the clubs and organizations told us they would use email for communication, I panicked. How could we possibly manage without easy access to email? What about last minute announcements from the band director? Or club meeting cancellation notices? I called the attorney to explain our predicament and asked if a data plan on my cell phone would cause any problems for my husband's case. He, in turn, asked the prosecutor who reponded that he didn't care about what we did with cell phones. That made no sense to me; can't porn be downloaded on a cell phone as well as a computer?

We have one phone we can use to access email and that seems to work okay for us. My husband likes not having the temptation of the Internet, I like not spending the evening on political blogs. We both appreciate the time freed up for reading books. The kids don't complain often, bless their hearts. There are times when the frustration is too much and they let me know that they hate not being able to Skype their friends. The Internet is such a big part of entertainment for kids that not having Internet is as big a deal as not having TV when I was a child.

The kids worried that their friends wouldn't want to come to our house because it would be boring but their friends take it in stride that our house doesn't have Internet access. We still have TV and movies and, yes, board games are still fun.

All in all, not having Internet at home has been an inconvienence, not a disaster. If you had asked me a year ago if I would do without Internet access, I'd have thought you were crazy. Now, I can see how it has been good for all of us. Less time on videogames for our son, fewer distractions from study for our daughter. More reading time for all of us. I'm not sure I'd go back.

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