I’m old enough to remember life before the Internet, but young enough to become impatient and restless when I can’t get online. Recently while performing navigator duties as my husband drove us through a long stretch of Nevada (aka America’s Loneliest State), I was reminded of just how many places in this great nation lack Internet access – and how I’m more tethered to the Internet than I ever imagined.
Early in the morning we began an all-day back country jaunt that would take us in a northern direction from Las Vegas to Reno. Since my laptop was malfunctioning, I thought I was prepared to busy myself in other ways; with my knitting bag at my side and fresh tunes on the iPod, I braced myself for hours of doing little other than making sure Jim kept his eyes open and the RV wheels were pointed north.
Hours went by and by lunchtime I became tired of the old “knit-purl-knit-purl” maneuvers. I started getting antsy to connect with the world so I pulled my smart phone from my bag and launched a web browser. What followed was pure frustration as the “No Signal” indicator prevented me from jumping on the Information Superhighway. Just as panic set in, it was time to stop at the next little town where we could dish out lunch and check in with customers. Whew!
Does this kind of behavior sound crazy to you? It does to me. I’m embarrassed by it, yet I find myself repeating it each time we experience a long driving day through Nowheresville, USA. If I could transport my old “pre-smart phone” self into this scene, she would tell me to get therapy. Then she’d remind me that the whole reason we went on the road in the first place was to slow down and absorb the world around us, not continue staring into the tiny screen in the palm of my hand.
When we hit the road we invested in a satellite Internet system for the RV because we knew it would be a critical tool that would enable us to build our future businesses, which it has. But that was in 2007 – before smart phones became ubiquitous. Until recently, when the dish wasn’t up we had no other options for checking in on the world. Instead of downloading our email on the go, we just relaxed and did something else, like play with our dog or go for a walk.
But ever since we bought our first smart phone, if there’s no Internet connectivity I find myself afflicted with FOMS: Fear of Missing Out on Something. Pestered by a nagging sense that the world is passing me by or that clients are presenting me with work opportunities, if I can’t get online, a “left behind” feeling starts to set in and I panic.
I suppose this is part of the dilemma of being a working-age full-timer. Sitting back and doing nothing is rarely an option when there’s money to be made and hopefully saved for that “someday” retirement. But the next time we find ourselves along a desolate stretch of highway without cell service, I’m going to remind myself that the “someday” I’m saving for may never come, so why not just sit back and enjoy the ride?
It’s worth a try don’t you think?