“Going off the grid” used to be the understood lingo to signify you were going to disappear without a trace. Without. A Trace. This meant you were leaving home, giving up almost all of your possessions, telling no one where you going or if you’d be back, and heading to some remote location where no one will ever find you.
With the advent of cool gadgets that can do everything but wipe our asses for us, this phrase has taken on a new meaning. It means you deleted facebook. It means you’re not on the internet as often. It means you moved to a new apartment across town because you’re too big of a pussy to break up with your significant other.
For me, it meant going more than a week without a phone while I wait for work to get me a new one. Yes, I’m lucky to have an employer who will replace my scuffed, dilapidated Blackberry which may or may not have found its way into the bottom of a toilet because it fell out of my sleeve, which is not as secure as I thought. I’m also lucky to have dropped it around the time Blackberry was having problems with text messaging anyway AND Apple is releasing a new iPhone, thus bringing down the price of previous generations. That luck ran out today, though. I reached the office a little after 8, and “Good morning” was replaced with “No Internet.”
So now I’m stuck in Everett, an hour away from home, with no contact with the outside world. I have no Internet and no phone, save for the one at my desk which has a cord attached. I have used it exactly once: to place an order for a new phone. I have a flying lesson and a gig after work, and I’m using a desk phone like it’s fucking 1982. Why don’t I just send a goddamn fax while I’m at it… Were fax machines even around back then? I’d look up the information myself but there’s NO INTERNET.
Still, I’m not off the grid. Far from it. I showed up to work and went to a meeting. The set of people most likely to call the police and file a missing persons report in my prolonged absence know exactly where I am. And yet, everyone but my boss went to lunch, so I can’t help but feel like the captain’s first mate, voluntarily joining him on this sinking ship.
But the captain has a cell phone! I don’t!
Scratch that. The admin just walked in with my new iPhone 4. Of course, I can’t just turn it on and let it find a cell tower. That would enable me only to use it for its intended purpose: calling people. Nope, this is a state-of-the-art, all-in-one computing device commonly considered a “smart” phone. It needs a wireless network to set up iTunes, so I can do all my bullshit through there. It doesn’t realize our network is down and automatically search for the next best thing.
SMARTPHONE: Y U NO SMART ENOUGH TO LOOK FOR A CELL TOWER?
It’s several hours later and we’re back. As a coworker put it, the Internet is still “slower than pig snot.” My iTunes download is going to take 6 hours. At least I got the info I need to carry on with my day. It’s amazing how reliant we become on technology that barely existed 10 years ago. My greater worry is not my own personal desire to be in touch, but others’ expectations that I have the necessary technology available to return correspondence in a timely manner. I can go without either a phone OR the internet for quite awhile, but missing both presents a problem for school, work, and customers. I guess we’ll see how things go this evening. At the very least, I should get some uninterrupted time to get gas and wash the hearse!