I can’t decide if I am an addict or suffering from human rights abuses.
We’re on holiday in darkest Northumberland at the moment. It really is fantastic up here – dramatic coastline, incredible beaches, clouds pouring toward infinity (see the photo below). I’ve never been to this part of the country, but I am definitely coming back. It was my partner’s idea to come here, and I shall be ever grateful to her for suggesting it.
Now, we’re both busy people normally; we work hard and we’re most definitely 21st century humans. I own (as you may have read in previous posts) a Macbook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone. They’re all here with me. My partner has her Blackberry and her laptop (work laptop) here too. We’re rarely seen without at least one internet-enabled device within reach. (“We’re just doing a bit of Facebooking, honest. And I can give it up anytime I want to…” *twitch*).
Kelly (that’s her mentioned above) needed to connect to the Internet to send a few things off last Sunday – just tidying up a couple of loose work ends (hmm, I wonder if ‘work ends’ is the new name for Saturday and Sunday…but I digress) so that we can both relax for the week. I wanted to post something to the blog – it’s been a while – and perhaps upload some of the photos we had taken to Flickr. Just your basic 21st Century human thing, y’know?
The village we’re in. One pub. Looks rough. Unlikely to have wifi. Might get beaten up.
So we drove to the nearest metropolis – Alnwick. Wandering around the town I kept picking up wifi signals on the iPhone, but nothing that suggested it was connected to a cafe. None of the cafes we saw were advertising wifi – which you think they would do if they had it. Frustration, sweatiness and panic were starting to set in.
A week? Without the internet? Other than via the very mobile Blackberry or iPhone? What about uploading pics? Longer emails? Blog posts? I mean WHAT ABOUT THAT? Hmm? HMMM?
As the panic threatened to constrict our breathing, we popped into the nearest (trendy-ish) looking cafe and asked.
‘Do you have wifi here?’, Kelly asked sweetly.
‘Wireless internet access?’
‘Do you know anywhere that might have it?’
‘You want to connect to the Internet? Is that it?’
‘Yes!’, Kelly breathes.
‘Well, you could try the library, but not on a Sunday. They’re shut on a Sunday. I don’t think you can get the Internet on a Sunday, no.’, the waiters all agreed.
No internet on a Sunday. Not in Alnwick, anyway. Worse than the bloody Sunday Trading Laws of old.
But it got us both talking about how much having 24:7 Internet access – even if you don’t use it – is important to both of us. Just knowing you can get online is enough. Knowing it’s possible to play around with Flickr, post something to Twitter, whatever. Even if – whilst on holiday you shouldn’t – knowing you can is important.
And the rage, panic and fear – real fear – that set in begged the question whether we’re addicts or whether here and now, in 2010, constant access to the Internet should just be a given. Should just be a right. A basic human right.
PS: we found free wifi in a secondhand bookstore, of all places. A place of print, not a place to be digital. Best bookstore I’ve been in in a while, by the way. (Barter Books)