Conformity has never been anything I consciously worked towards. Growing up, I was told that I was special and one of a kind. It was not in a “snowflakey” kind of way. It was more along the lines of: “You do not need to imitate anyone; just be you.” Even though, along the years, I have conformed in more ways than one to achieve my goals, I feel as if I still am “ME”.
I like choices. I like having choices. Yes, that is better. Even if I end up making the same decision as you, I will appreciate having the CHOICE between this and that. Having too many choices can make me frazzled sometimes and then I just end up picking the first best thing.
As you know from the title, this post is mainly about the Internet and our everyday choices related to it. At my previous job, I had an old-school phone (call + text + pictures), which did not have access to the Internet. Moreover, it was pre-paid, which meant that I paid a specific amount of money for every call I made (or received), and every text I sent (or received). It was more cost efficient to me, and I was happy with what I had/ did not have. At some point people started sending MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) to me. They were mostly pictures or gifs. Those cost me more than standard SMS (Short Message Service), and my phone did not like opening them anyway. Because of that, I would ask people to stop doing that. I will survive without your photos. You can show them to me the next time we meet. You can also write what you want to say instead of sending an infographic. The art of conversation is DYING!
Then came group chat. What a mess. Instead of receiving a spam of messages from different people in the same conversation thread, I would receive a spam of separate messages from random people and had to decipher what was meant and for whom. (My boss with text all of their employees and I did not have everyone’s phone number. Also, I did not want my number to be known to others. No, I was not asked if my number can be shared with others.)
What do these two things have in common? Expectations and lack of choice. People were stunned when they found out that I did not own a “smartphone”. They recommended I get it ASAP. How was I checking my emails? On the computer. What about music? MP3 player. After years of struggle, I finally gave in. Not because I decided to listen to the people around me, but because I realized that moving forward will be hard. I got a new phone and an “Unlimited” plan. (I use it in moderation and I think I use it less than what I pay for. But it is all or nothing in today’s world.)
Now, that we have discussed conformity and cell phones, let us move on to the Internet.
Although I grew up without the Internet, and then survived with dial-up, I have become dependent on the fast Internet of today. A few days ago, I arrived home from work and found no juice in my Internet connection. The first thing I did was the usual – unplug the router and plug it in, restart everything, etc. I waited a minute or two. The red light of NO INTERNET was still staring me in the face.
Time for step 2 – call the Internet provider company. If you are working on saving the planet, or do not have too much space in your home, chances are you are signed up for paperless billing. Well, I am not. I like to have easily accessible documentation. Every time the pesky “Go paperless” pops up, I smash the “NO” button. The electric company actually got me recently and I had to undo that “green” selection. They are getting sneakier and sneakier about it. Some companies do not give you an option, or they charge you for your paper bill. How insane is that? Why is the paper bill so important in this instance? It has the phone number that you need to dial to report your issue. Thankfully, I saved the number in my phone after the first time this happened. But if something happened to that, I could pull out that bill and dial the number without breaking a sweat.
What happened when I called? I heard: “You can report an issue online on our website…” WAIT, WHAAAAAT? I did not get to talk to a live person. I ended up pressing all sorts of buttons to reply to their automated prompts and requested a text update, which never arrived. Go figure. The Internet was not restored until the next evening. No one knows what the problem was. The sun was shining and the skies were blue.
Back to: “Visit us online to report an Internet outage”. How is that supposed to work? In order to access the Internet I need Internet, and if I do not have Internet, I cannot browse the Internet. Sounds logical to me. Does it sound logical to you? Here is where conformity and smartphones come into play. You are forced to rely on the Internet on your phone. Chances are that if you have no connection at home, you pull out your phone, you Google your provider’s phone number on it and/ or you submit a ticket online via your phone. Some of us do it. Some of us can. But why do we expect EVERYONE to be able to do it?
The reason why this whole situation was so funny was because AT THE SAME TIME there was no running water at the apartment complex I live in. The maintenance was previously scheduled, so I was prepared. The management sent out an email saying: “Please do not call us to check on the status of the maintenance. We will send out an email once it is completed.” How was I supposed to know what was going on if there was no Internet and everyone refuses to use the phone to conduct business?
A comedic tragedy.
What do you do when you do not have Internet in the house?
#WednesdayWisdom: Be prepared and make a plan for an Internet outage TODAY!
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