I’m back from the abyss; the wilderness. Indeed, my four week stint away from writing was not by choice. No; instead it was forced upon me by a combination of horrendous phone companies and horrible contracts. I’ve often mused and wondered about how our fast-paced modern lives would be without internet; refreshing? exciting? productive? No. It’s turns out it’s none of those. Just shit.
I’m as concerned about my internet usage as anyone. Indeed, my twitter feed hardly goes a day without being updated, and I’m on my favourite websites on a near daily basis. As such, my weeks without regular internet access were somewhat of a cold turkey session against my addiction; and just as the drug addict will always find a way of getting their next hit through any way they know how, I displayed similar patterns of cold turkey behaviour. This mainly involved attempting to catch up on a weeks TV via an online catch-up service, using our local pub’s free Wi-Fi service on a Saturday night. Picture the scene; Sky Sports is blaring and the pub is full to the brim of excitable football fans loudly reacting to various football results. There, amongst the testosterone-fulled hustle and bustle was myself; Pepsi in hand, attempting to catch up on Holby City through my earphones. There was never a more accurate real life exemplification of the words ‘tragic’ and ‘desperate’.
This was all caused by a lack of preparation by myself and my fellow housemates; indeed we knew there would be some delay in securing internet access to our student house, but just like 9am starts, Loose Women and slow walkers, we thought it was something we’d just have to deal with. However, when ordering our initial internet in mid-September, I was informed after I’d ordered the package and handed over my valuable direct debit details that my internet was due to be installed in late November. LATE NOVEMBER?! A good two thirds into the first semester! I understand that the company needed to order a BT engineer to install our internet access, but where was the engineer commuting from?! Melbourne?! Bloody Mars?! However, when I enquired as to whether there would be any slight possibility as to whether we could have another date that would be more convenient, I was met with a response that seemed to suggest that I’d managed to buck the system; a result! “Let me see what I can do. After all, I can understand you’re situation as students” the delightful telephone operator informed me. “How’s early December?!” he barked. I understand this gentleman was only doing his job; and that he couldn’t help the dates he’d been provided with. But, when you hear laughter in the background of the call centre, and the on-hold music is something that resembles a cross between James Blunt and ‘Greensleeves’, you do begin to get angry thoughts; angry thoughts as a result of being fucked around by a call centre of happiness-destroyers. I imagine that after my call, the gentleman I had the pleasure of speaking to went home, cooked a microwave meal, neatly placed his customer service pamphlet next to his bus pass and keys, before proceeding to drown an innocent kitten. I may be demonising the poor gentleman, but when you are responsible for me missing my weekly fix of ‘Honey Boo Boo Child’, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.
In all seriousness, these past few weeks have had me thinking about how much of an influence the internet has on our modern day, fast-paced lifestyles. *This may sound like a dodgy sociology essay, but bear with.* From everything to organising a lunch date, to watching television; the internet has cast its iron cast hold over our day-to-day activities. Just recently, television shows have even started to provide us with awful HASHTAGS to use in our tweets. Take, ‘The X Factor’, for instance. Once we’ve sat through an audition of a middle aged man from Doncaster murdering a Lady GaGa song, and Gary Barlow spits some awfully predictable comment of how he was on ‘The Edge of Boredom’, all of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, the internet gods (a.k.a, the ‘social media gurus’) post on the bottom hand of the television screen #EDGEOFBOREDOM. What have our lives come to? For those who believe that the ‘nanny state’ has gone too far, or that many things today are ‘political correctness gone mad’, I ask them to simply watch one episode of an ITV1 talent show and their use of current social media platforms. Suddenly, local council rules created by jobs-worths about street parties and bin collections will seem pale in comparison to being encouraged to tweet inane messages every five minutes. Apparently, they are supposed to be amusing, modern-day LOLZ for ‘the YOOF audience’. Instead of seeming cool and edgy, it just makes you cringe. Fire the klaxons, people of ‘the twittersphere’, the VERY LAST MEMBERS of the party have arrived.
Our society has become so internet-centric that I struggled to survive without it for more than a few days. As a result I am now responsible for a phone bill so unbelievably large it deserves its own postcode. Sitting here at my desk, with six tabs, Spotify and an email programme all being used, it’s struck me that a 2012 student existence is centred around this phenomenon. Yet, unlike the groundbreaking mediums of media that it has replaced, the internet has penetrated all aspects of our modern day life; work, leisure, shopping, research, contact; a seeming monopoly over human life. Thus, if our internet access has such a stronghold over our modern day, twenty-first century lifestyles, it begs the question; where do we go from here?