gilest.org

Bandwidth anxiety

My wireless router died. I tried resetting it. I checked to see if there’d been a power cut (apparently not). I tried everything I could think of, but the router was dead.

Networkless, I felt detached. Anxious as to how I’d get my work done (I’m one of those people who checks facts as he goes along; I need to be online most of the time to look things up, ask questions by email, IRC and IM, send questions to people).

But also just generally anxious. If I stopped to think about it, being offline for a while wasn’t going to be too serious. With my sensible hat on I was able to see that nothing terribly urgent had to be done, I’d be able to get by until the router was replaced.

My sensible hat returned to the shelf where it belongs, I worried. What if someone’s mailed me about something important? What if there’s a big story breaking that I should know about? How are my chums getting on with Extendaword? When will I be able to play again?

Being without internets for a few days demonstrated to me how dependent I am on them. I habitually check my mail every time I pass the computer on a non-work day (it sits on the side in the kitchen). I frequently refresh my browser or RSS reader to see what the latest Mac/weather/chump/foo headlines are.

Without these dependable distractions in my day, I felt slightly listless. Even Kate noticed it. She likes to check the weather forecast every night, and was frustrated not to have that facility available.

It’s not like I was distraught or incapacitated without my connection; I just got on with offline life, did some jobs and played some games in the garden, read a bit more book than I might usually.

But the feeling of unease and frustration was impossible to ignore. After three days I was impatient, urging the phone to ring while I sat and waited for a return call from Belkin. It never came.

Eventually I gave up and spent 45 minutes playing telephone runaround with their customer service line; I ended up chatting to a bloke who meant well, but really couldn’t help. Feeling tense and aggravated and worried that I might be facing a week or more without bandwidth, I drove to Bath and bought a new router.

Now I can relax.

(22nd August 2005)