My Internet Was Down for 26 Hours Over Two Days – The Rest of the Story of a Work From Home Entrepreneur
A few days ago I wrote: My internet was down for 15 hours.
“I market my business online. I follow up with clients online. I do almost everything online. It was so down, that I couldn’t even access data through my cell phone. There was some huge break in system 250 miles away, effecting a large portion of the state. I have no TV and no Radio, so I essentially was in an information blackout – which is part of the story I will share – AFTER I hear how you would feel.
At first glance , I want to know your feeling. Would it be a blessing for you , or a curse, or a non-issue either way.
How would you feel with no connectivity for a period of time?
Blessing or Curse?”
Many have commented on this post and shared their feelings so or experiences of related to loss of connectivity. Now for the whole story I promised I’d share.
It was about 10:00 PM at night. I was doing my (somewhat unhealthy) late night sitting in bed replying to comments and emails, along with outlining my weekly blog post to have it set up to finish and publish the next day, which is part of my schedule as a work from home entrepreneur.
First things got a bit funky. I was online, then I was offline, then I’d refresh the browser and be back online for a few minutes. Then — Nothing. We have a new microwave-type high tech high speed router and antenna to finally solve the very slow DSL issues. Naturally I thought it was that. I’ve only had it for two weeks and figured it has a glitch.
After checking all my devices to definitively eliminate the issue I walked downstairs to look at the router and the outside antenna. “Interesting” I thought – all looked good. I unplugged and reset the router for good measure and tried again. Nothing.
This was weird. Turning on my smart phone to send a email through my cell to the local service provider I encountered something ever more weird. Though I had cell service for phone and text, I could not send nor receive data through the cell. “Oh dear”, I thought – the mystery deepens.
Then a brilliant thought occurred to me. I would disconnect the new high speed router and reconnect the old DSL router which runs through my land line phone line and an entirely different provider. Now I was on a mission! I waited for the old work horse to boot up, confident that we’d be back online shortly and I’d get my work finished before heading off to sleep.
It tried a few times, but the little internet light just flashed on and off and there was no connectivity.
Now the fun begins. You see I live in a very rural area. I’m anti-TV so we barely have one – I can get two channels with an antenna on a good day – Discovery and Create(PBS). I also have no regular radio because we have a challenge picking up any stations except for the local public radio station with a lot of static. Instead we have taken to listening to the radio over the internet.
I tend to be one who thinks the world is teetering on the brink of anarchy. We are at high risk from both rogue groups and global disease. We are so dependent on centralized food, water, information, etc… that the tipping point is quite different than 100 years ago when people had the abilities to be more self-sufficient . It’s one of the reasons I live where I do, in this relatively safe and isolate mountain valley. Our rivers and warm springs flow. There is food in the forest and only one road in and out. I heat my house with the sun and wood. We could survive completely off the grid if necessary.
Terrorists are just waiting for an opportunity to impact the USA in a huge manner. I believe there are many smaller terrorist attacks in our country which are kept from us to not invoke panic. What would I do if I wanted to wreak havoc not only on the USA but on the world? I’d disable the communication infrastructure. (Or the water supply -but that’s a conversation for another day).
So here I am at 11 PM , with absolutely no communication outlet, and I think “I wonder if a terrorist attack hit an important juncture in the internet web somewhere ?” Seriously that was my predominant thought. I went to the TV and explored the two working channels – nothing there, though the Discovery Channel has never shown any news to my knowledge. I thought about making some phone calls but by then it was really late.
I can be a bit imaginative. You are probably reading this thinking that maybe “overly dramatic” might be a better description, and maybe so. I’m wracking my brain to figure out how to get some information. Information to me has always been the solution (or at least a feeling of a solution) to anything stressful. Ah. An idea. I can access the local radio from my car. So off I went into the garage to turn it on. Nothing unusual was on the radio. Just the late night local DJ garage punk music. “Should I call the radio station?” I thought, to see if they’d heard anything.
Deciding that was overkill and there was nothing to be done at that moment, I went to sleep wondering what I’d learn the next day when I awoke. As I lay in bed, I seriously listed in my mind the food we had in stock, the gas in the car tanks, firewood in the pile.
The next morning I realized I didn’t even know the temperature outside because after our thermometer died I just used the an app to check it. How very silly of me. A few minutes later there was a text from my local service provider – “Large internet outage near Denver effecting Colorado”. No mention of terrorists so I lay that concern to rest. Now to figure out how to do my work for the day.
As many mentioned in their comments, we tend to have almost absurd addiction to the internet. When it’s taken away expectantly the entire day seems to become unfocused initially and uncomfortable. This was my starting point. I work a few hours every day, writing on my blog, promoting my work through social media, replying to and sending emails to clients and colleagues. I have a weekly rhythm and a daily zero level plan. It was all disrupted and I felt out of sorts and mildly anxious.
Luckily I had a walk planned with a friend and some household chores. As I was cleaning and doing laundry I thought deeply about this internet thing, and the draw to be in touch and connected all the time. For me, it’s information. I was an information junkie even when high-tech was micro-fiche at the library. The internet grabbed me 20 years ago, as I gobbled up information at my fingertips. It’s only got better and better from there, though the garbage is more too, so much grad school researching skills come into play to sort the good wheat from the chafe.
Often I spend planned time disconnected. I camp and hike quite a bit. We travel outside the US and often have to pay for access (which I tend to do only once or not at all in a week long trip). Even then, there is a 24 hours period or so that feels truly like withdrawal. But once that is-passed, it’s amazing how much I don’t miss. Certainly the checking-social-media-to see-what-is-going-on habit dissolved pretty quickly. When I come back I and find out how little I actually missed, it reminds me how much time is spent on non-essential filler.
We all do it. It’s so simple to glance at the phone apps when bored, angry, stuck on a problem. We have learned to disengage from our surroundings and ourselves with the click of a button. Tim Ferris in the Four Hour Work Week talks a lot about segmenting online time and email time, maximizing efficiency and getting rid of distractions. I agree in theory, yet continue to be pulled by the allure of someone wanting to say something important to us -so we look and look and look, to the detriment of focus and productivity.
As I pondered this that morning, I came to a zen-like comfort with the lack of internet and a grand plan for all the work I was going to get done on a workbook product I’ve been creating. My friend arrived and we walked and talked for two hours. That left me the rest of the afternoon for writing. And then came the text. “We are back online”.
Did I ignore it? Did I stick with the plan? I wish I could say I did, but instead I instantly checked my email, completed my blog commenting from the night before, checked in with all the social media, laughing all the while that I am such an addict! I wrote to my upcoming clients on my calender to let them know that my internet had been down, and if in fact that happens again and they can’t reach me, to text. By the time I finished all that, the time for intensely focused writing was over.
I was sad. I had gotten comfortable with the idea of working offline, and then succumbed once again to the pull of the internet drug.
The following day I got a gift. We went down again! This time I was prepared (and didn’t worry about the terrorist thing – LOL). I got to work on other things with not much emotional attachment except for a small amount of concern with some incoming emails that I knew were coming and had to be dealt with. I focused. I got things done. I reveled in no distractions for most of the day.
Then I got in my car to drive the 30 miles to pick my daughter up from school and was able to reply to those important email in just 20 minutes on my phone in the library (who got their internet from elsewhere and had access). That was it. Internet related stuff done in less than 30 minutes and a fully productive day!
The moral of this story is quite clear to me.
1. I should have a functioning radio in the house, with AM/FM and short wave, for emergencies.
2. At least once per week my schedule should include a non-internet day. Even when I write I usually pause the flow to check-in somewhere. Imagine how much more efficient I’d be if I just did what I was doing – or had my breaks be a yoga pose or a moment of meditation rather than a scan through the Facebook or Twitter feed!!
3. Buy a replacement for my outside thermometer!
So I challenge you, my readers – to create and share – your own plan for claiming back your self time as my blogging friend Karmakar so eloquently spoke about in his comments on my initial internet down post.
Share one of your thougts in the comments below .
Share this post on your favorite social media site. I would hazard a guess that many would benefit from making a plan to both be prepared in our dangerous world, and disconnect for greater focus!