And it was just like the eighties again.
With a string of modern conveniences. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I live in a place that’s still served by differently tiered internet contracts. This is – I guess – true of most parts of the world, but in our part of the world, the prices for the internet [even just the ADSL part of it] are still staggeringly expensive. The ISP’s don’t want you to consume all the bandwidth, so they price the bandwidth accordingly [or, in some cases, right out of the market I’m in.]
In our case that means that there’s pay-as-you-go data, which is absurdly expensive, contract data, which is absurdly expensive, but tolerable and all you can use data which has fluctuated in and out of being affordable or not affordable at the ISP’s whims. [Of course, all you can use data packages come with hefty Fair Use stipulations. The legalese will never outright tell you when you’re out of your window, but you’ll know all about it because – while the internet is still there – it’ll grind to a complete halt.]
For the sake of context: I don’t consider myself a particularly heavy internet user. I check the internet every morning for news. That means that there’s a handful of five or six sites I read for the first hour or two when I wake up. I feel like the news is often the worst part of any day, and my feelings with that kind of thing go something like: you should just rip the band-aid off.
After that, I’ll get stuck into projects of some persuasion. Some of these are mostly offline affairs: writing articles like this one are “mostly” offline projects [of course, finding images and looking up stuff tends to involve going online.] – or, I’ll make videos for my Youtube channel. That’s largely an offline activity, too, until it comes to uploading.
A lot of the time while these activities are happening, I’ll be listening to music. That has increasingly become an online activity. First through things like YouTube and now, finally, through services like Spotify or Deezer. For the record, while I appreciate the breadth and depth of those catalogues, I hate that the artists get paid pennies to be on them. It’s a shame and I wish we could do something about that, but we’re in the golden age of the big company.
But the BULK of my online time comes from watching videos. I have a Netflix subscription [that I don’t seriously use, but it’s on a family plan and at least one other family member uses it religiously] and I consume a silly amount of YouTube footage [because that’s ended up being the most interesting stuff to me. Structured TV isn’t – by and large – serving my needs, but folks like NintendoCaprisun and Lucahjin [both great YouTubers, by the by] are playing video games, being mostly gentle about it, and just having a great time.] – and that’s where the bulk of my data goes.
So, I’m a kind of “light internet user” for the current generation. I don’t download tons of games, I don’t scrape Linux repositories for every single build of every single Distribution. I just don’t have a need for that kind of activity.
You can – then – understand my shock and bewilderment when – about a week ago, today, I ran out of data. I have no idea how this happened. Nothing in my usage pattern was significantly different. I’d just – somehow – run up against the internet wall and gone “Thud!” Right into it.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage. Lots of the stuff I enjoy, now, is all inside a computer. But then, I had a slow and dawning realization. I’d lived like this before. As you’ll recall, I’m an OLD MAN. And I grew up in the time of dinosaurs and fossils and sun religions. So, no internet? No problem.
There’s a couple of VERY big projects that I only tackle in small doses, because if I tackle them for too long, my brain starts to melt. My first, immediate thought was to set up the workspace for one of those projects and to fall into it a little more heavily than I normally would. Problem solved. For four hours, every day, I’d tackle that particular project a little at a time and – across the seven days that I didn’t have internet, I finished off all the crucial elements of that particular project. Now, it’s in alpha and I can actually test it.
The next thing I realized was that there was a whole slew of games that I had on my machine that weren’t ever made with the internet in mind. I started picking through those and eventually settled on a couple that would see me through the week. One of these was – hilariously – a version of Wheel of Fortune. Wheel of Fortune was – surprisingly – great as a palate cleanser for the big project. I’d go a round or two with some NPC players and chuckle while they picked some VERY weird letters for some of the words.
The remainder of my time was spent reading and listening to music offline – in a way I haven’t generally done in a long, long time. [Not since I was consistently reviewing books for my blog a few years back.]
I’d grab a coffee, put on something soft in the background, settle down on the couch, listen to the rain patter on the porch, outside and blow through a hundred pages or so of a book, until I felt like I needed to move on to doing something else.
It was – as I said in my opening paragraphs – very like the eighties – the time where I had a computer, but had no real access to the internet.
And you know? It was peaceful and I’d probably do it again. Just, this time, it’d be voluntary seclusion. Running out of data is the worst.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.