Family Unplugged

No internet, cable TV or home phone service? 
It’s no disaster

What would you do if, inexplicably, your family came unplugged and got disconnected? Honestly, I’ve never wanted to entertain the notion, although I’m all for a total tech ban when we’re away on holidays.
But at home? On a weekday work day? Yikes.
Until this week.
A few days ago, as the youngest snoozed away in his bedroom down the hall and the dog gazed at me longingly – her paw on my knee, a ball in her mouth – I was working away in my home office. Hootsuite was open, with a steady stream of Twitter updates appearing. Facebook was open too.  At least a half dozen blogs and websites were also open on the screen, along with the ubiquitous long, long line of email messages.
I was typing away, going back and forth between different venues, when I picked up the home phone to make a call.
No dial tone. Hmmm. That was strange. I went in search of another phone. And another. They were all silent. Then I noticed the all-too-familiar email error message. Hootsuite wasn’t budging either. Facebook? Totally uncooperative.
Uh oh. I’m sure you’ve had that feeling as well. It’s the same one you get when your computer screen turns an alarming colour, the words FATAL ERROR pop up, then everything fades to black. It equals disaster.
I wasn’t rattled though. Just the day before in the grocery store, the power went out and the whole place was pitched into darkness. In fact the power was out in the entire neighbourhood. No need to panic. It was restored a few minutes later.
I expected the same thing this time. Ahem.
Then I discovered the truth. Someone in the household (who shall remain nameless) accidentally severed the underground cable line. Chopped it in two by way of enthusiastic shovelling.ARGH! Talk about putting a wrinkle in the family routine. There was loads of work and no way to do it. A cell-phone call to Rogers revealed our emergency was lowish on the priority list. They would get to us tomorrow. At that point, our new reality started to sink in. We were cut off from the world wide web of information, connection, news and entertainment.  It was a stark reminder of just how reliant we are on the internet to function. Access to phone numbers, addresses, crucial information, communication and the whole wide world is tied to that tenuous link(better known as the wire by the fence).
The eldest put the situation in perspective when he mentioned another householder who inadvertently severed such a cable. She cut off internet access in two countries.

When the youngest awoke and heard the news – by way of mouth, a first – he clutched his iphone and may have quaked a little. He also may have muttered something about the absurdity of adults as the ramification filtered in: there would be no staring at a screen bigger than the one glued to his hand.
As a family unit, we quite possibly travelled at warp-speed through the stages of grief.
Eventually, there was an adjustment. There usually is.
I discovered I get way more writing done without online distractions.
An offspring unit, sprung free from technology, discovered himself outside in the daylight doing yard work. It was a character-building opportunity.
And at the end of the day, we discovered ourselves in a scenario straight out of Little House on the Prairie or 1982. We sat by lamplight in the living room, reading books, magazines and newspapers that had once, long ago, been trees.

Has your family ever gone tech free?
What happened? How did you manage?
Let’s talk.

Pam Dillon

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