The internet went out last night. Okay, let me repeat that. The internet went out last night, and it caused enough drama in my household to rival any daytime or internet soap opera. Why you ask? Two words, my son.
At the ripe old age of 16, almost 17 – where did all that time go? – my son has never known a world without a computer and an active, engaged internet connection. As he’s gotten older you can replace the word computer with any number of connected devices including what my mom refers to as, “That black box that’s destroying his brain, he doesn’t have a chance.” – I’m not quite sure what the “chance” thing is about, and I don’t ask, some things are just better left unexplored. – That black box is otherwise known as the IPhone, and just from those words, can you tell how over-dramatic my mom can be? Yes, she would have given Sarah Bernhardt a run for her money.
That said, my son would have given Sarah Bernhardt a run for her money last night too. Because it’s finals week, and true to his leave things until the last minute ways, he had to get an essay in by midnight. This is very difficult if you can’t access Google Docs where you wrote the essay, or Turn It In where if you could access your essay, you would submit the essay. All because there is no internet connection.
I don’t know about your kids, but my son has two modes to his teenage grey matter, the ‘sky is falling’ and blase indifference. There is no in between. Okay, maybe there is an in between, but it hides itself as whatever. Whatever and blase indifference were thrown to the wind in the face of the mammoth wall he faced last night. When he couldn’t access anything, he shot right to the ‘sky is falling’ in less than a second. First it was the computer’s fault, then it was the internet’s fault, and all the way through it was my fault – go figure that one out because I can’t.
Now, I’ve been on this disconnected rodeo ride a few times myself. In fact, I’m so old that I first accessed the internet when there was no official internet, daisy chaining a modem to my PC and connecting it to the phone jack – remember those? Then listening to the distinctively odd whine that sounded suspiciously like an alien language. This told me it was trying to do something before it finally connected. Back then if you didn’t know the exact address of the website you were looking for, which was all text by the way, you got lost in some weird wormhole in ether-space. If you found yourself lost in some weird wormhole, you just had to figure it out as far as getting where you wanted to go. Back then, there was a lot of figuring out.
In situations like the one we had last night, it’s really hard for me not to jump in and just make it work. Although my son thinks the way I do things on the computer is archaic, I can weave my way amongst the obstacles that computers and the internet present relatively deftly thinking of ways to get things done that he never thought of. Why? Because there’s difference between being immersed in something from the time you were born and learning it along the way.
The generations after me – the Millennials and the yet to be nameders – were immersed in the world we live in today. They didn’t have to learn to navigate hardware and software, they just showed up and plugged in. So, when the internet is down, it’s as if part of their world has just dropped away. At that point in time something that is an ingrained part of their reality, something that they rely on for, let’s face it, pretty much everything from communication to work to play, just doesn’t exist, which is really something to think about whether the internet goes down or not.