Suzie McCracken

INTERDEBT

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Imagephoto HARRIET PITTARD

I have managed to bag myself a pretty impressive house. It’s around 2000 sq ft of space that my flatmates and I have filled with bearded twins filming theatre promos and safety glass-wearing makers of emotional furniture. If any of us had a clue how to fill out a form then we’d probably be receiving arts funding. However, our pitched-roof haven has come with an unexpected downside. Despite being a total steal, it doesn’t technically exist. Whoever owns this space didn’t tell anyone they were shoving humans into it and as a result we have negated our right to vote and our duty to pay council tax.

The biggest problem we’ve encountered is that it is difficult to get internet into a house that’s about ten meters away from the road and about the same off the ground. It has been five months since we moved in and we are due to finally get connected come Friday.

If I were a better writer I probably would have seen the opportunity in this predicament to deprive myself of any access to the net until it was sorted, thus providing folios upon folios of testy prose examining my relationships with the world and indeed, the wide web.

However, after all this time I have realised that a pseudo-investigative project would not only have been boring, but an utter waste of time. Because I have come to the conclusion, after months of tethering, cafe-ing and midday grimy pubbing, that not having the internet at home just… sucks.

There is no higher knowledge that can be gained by moving your aura exclusively into a physical domain. It is dull. It is unpractical. No nirvana can be reached. This experiment would only be beneficial for masochists and gambling addicts. And as someone who has been forced to complete this experiment in a kind of half-assed ‘stillusingyoursmartphone’ way, I can provide insight into why not having the internet does not result in becoming a Zen master (although one of my flatmates has, strangely, taken up bonsai).

Nobody I know owns a map. Our house is not filled with all the useful stuff parents still own – the relics of a bygone era in which the words ‘i’ and ‘phone’ merely reflected the confirmation that yes, that previously referred to object is a phone. Finding a route through London is impossible whilst harbouring a brain that can no longer store data about its surroundings. The bit that used to do this is now busy remembering keyboard shortcuts and the name of that new band with the wishy washy photo and the word GIRL somewhere in their name.

Banks don’t open ever. I know our seniors would have us believe that things were actually worse in that respect back in ‘the past’, but I find it hard to believe. Life without e-banking has made me constantly edgy. I actually have nightmares about dipping my toes into a lake named Overdraft. I am not in a position so lucrative that I can happily remain in the dark about my accounts.

People don’t real-life ‘share’. I have missed countless gigs and soirees because I lack a continual background stream of information. Twitter and Facebook used to provide the white noise to my day; blogs I like punctuated rountine dreariness with sparkling annoucements tailored for me. We now so heavily rely on said interwebs to arrange our calendars that people rarely refer to events in person until after they happened, and even then that conversation is accompanied by glancing over a photostream of events.

Everyone under 30 has been so heavily conditioned to do things in this way, in this order, that it is truly impossible to work and have a social life without relatively constant access to the internet in 2013. Lambast me for first-worlding all you want, but when this is coupled with a crappy job and a post graduation lull as it has been for me, things get shitty. The thought of phoning someone to ask them what they’re doing this weekend with a view to invite myself would undoubtedly be considered by said friend as ‘a bit rapey’.

When I do access the internet at the moment, it is via my smartphone. I had hoped that after a number of weeks my mobile data usage would begin to slump as I slowly came to the conclusion that my life was more gratifying when I did not spend it entirely looking at a screen. The opposite is true. Due to the hideous app ecosystems (and I use that word with a distain for it’s recent appropriation) that govern our mobile internet usage, things become fiddly to say the least. I have probably spent twice as much time as I ever did staring at a screen that is infinitely smaller than the screens I looked at before.

The move to mobile has strained my eyes and nerves as I have become mired in a completely unlined cloud, silver or otherwise. Skydrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox all compete for my attention because no one I work for or with can stick to one system. Excel documents fly hither and thither vying for a platform on which to stand and articulate their valuable data. Files open, but god forbid I’d want to do anything else with them as the privilege will cost me an app upgrade and my last pipettes worth of optimism.

Of course I can read everything I normally would via my mobile. But it’s awkward. Following daisy-chains of interesting information is not QUESTish in the same way on your phone. If anything can put a full stop to a fact-finding mission, it’s finding a website that isn’t smart enough to adjust it’s column size for your device. It’s such a mundane thing to complain about that my fingers are cringing. This mundanity, spliced with disproportionate anger, now governs most of my day.

And then there’s the fact that tethering has been so excruitiatingly vilified. My own provider expressly disallows the practice of using my phone to create a network to which my laptop can connect. Well lads, I’m not uploading this via my WordPress app for shit.

Conclusion? There isn’t one. I’d love to have a frisson with optimism here – the thought of claiming that life cannot only be possible but indeed wonderful without constant access to the internet would be a lie. It’s terrible. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this depressive tirade on your massive desktop monitor. I’m now off to hug my knees and make out with our soon-to-be-useful router.

(Update – just got a phonecall to say that we are not getting the internet on Friday)

(Update on update – we did get the internet! Huzzah!)

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Author: suziemccracken

YOU'RE BEING BOLD

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