What would you do (or not do) without the internet? My original post of this title didn’t even consider this question. It was just about the wonky internet cafe I visit when my home internet doesn’t work. Which I suppose is directly related to my inability to even consider a single day of life without internet. I’ll amend that. I’ve gone for a single day without internet many times in my life. But I’ve typically spent that day scheming about how I would get internet tomorrow.
Especially as an extremely mobile expat, I keep large areas of my life online. And since people keep arriving at my blog lately in search of answers to the thorny problem of Life Without Internet, I’ll give you my thoughts. Here’s just a random sampling (in no particular order) of important elements of my world that would cause me serious problems if the internet disappeared tomorrow.
1. My mail. Well yes, email too, and I do conduct most of my correspondence via gmail these days. But I’m talking about my snail mail. Because I have a United States address set up with an online company that receives my U.S. mail and sends me scanned images of the envelopes. Then I let them know if I want it opened and scanned, forwarded, or shredded.
2. My telephone. Yeah, I have a cell phone that I use in Tunisia. But when we want to talk to the grandparents, we use google chat. And when we’re calling abroad (to the U.S. or elsewhere), we use google voice. In fact, I just upgraded google voice and got a real U.S. phone number. If you ask me (and promise not to telemarket me), I will give it to you. Or you can just click on the button I stuck on the right sidebar, just for kicks, put in your phone number, and your phone will automatically call me. I’m serious. Try it!
3. My bookshelf. I have a large collection of books mouldering away in a storage unit in Southern California. But my reading material these days comes mostly off of manybooks.net, gutenburg.org, and amazon.com. I download it to my Kindle, either directly or through my computer. Or we sometimes read books right off the screen.
4. My reference library. So I guess you could consider this an extension of my bookshelf. When I need to know all the theories about Shakespeare’s identity, possible locations for Atlantis, which U.S. presidents were left-handed, and whether snails have teeth, I go to wikipedia.
5. My photo album. We haven’t actually printed out photos (except for passports) in several years. Instead, we curl up on the couch as a family and page through our family website.
6. My travel agency. The internet is my one and only source for ferry, hotel, airline, train, vacation rental, and car rental bookings. I also find it useful for locating online travel guides, weather, time zones, and zip and area codes around the world. Not to mention the travel and expat blogs that are my favorite source for information about real life in other countries.
7. My social life. Arrghh! Is it really true? Yes, I have some friends who inhabit the same country where I am at the moment. But most of the people I know happen to be on other continents right now. So when I want to catch up on important things like the funny thing your kid said today, why you’re hopping mad, or what you’re making for dinner tonight, chances are I must turn to Facebook. Which is why I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. What I would really, really like (besides for you to visit me in Tunisia) is if you all were to start blogs. Then I could have an intimate daily glimpse into the depths of your very soul. Maybe you have a blog that I don’t know about (or have forgotten, because I only recently started organizing all the blogs I read into an aggregator). If so, tell me! I don’t want this to be a one-way relationship . . .
I guess in the end, my advice for coping with life without internet is to go get internet. Because I think I’d end up subsistence farming in Tunisia without it. Why is the internet important to you (other than my blog, of course)? Or could you do away with it today without shedding a tear?