A CONNECTED LIFE

A CONNECTED LIFE

These days, connections mean so many things. Our friends and followers on line. Our friends in the “real world.” The plugs and wires that run from our appliances, widgets, gadgets, and other devices to a power source.

It’s cable, satellite, FIOS, WiFi, and 3G.

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Electricity is the bottom line for most technology. But there’s more. The roads and bridges that allow us to drive from here to there. The pipes which bring water from the well to the house. The slot on the computer into which I can plug a memory card, turning digital data into an editable image.

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All these connections are part of the intricate web of our connections. We need all of them to be part of this techno-connected society. The more technology we use, the more dependent we are on our connections.

We take them for granted and barely notice them when they are working.

One day, there comes a storm. It knocks out the electricity. Nothing works. No connections. The well pump stops and there’s no water. The clocks don’t tell time. The background hum of our stuff disappears.

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No beeps, whirs, or clicks. If an outage lasts longer than batteries, there will be nothing. Those of you who depend entirely on “the cloud,” aka “other people’s servers” for music, movies, books … you have nothing even with battery power. Because without electricity, there’s no Internet, no cloud. No iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix.

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The silence and darkness are frightening.

Connectivity is life support. We have forgotten — in many cases, never knew — how to live without it.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

21 thoughts on “A CONNECTED LIFE”

  1. Even our (I hate the word) lifestyle suffers. There is, I must admit, a certain layer of smugness as I head for the oil lamps, and appreciate all over again the multitude of ways the wood stoves help. Power outages around here, while fewer than they were 40 years ago, still can plunge a home into total silence and darkness. And frankly if I lived here alone there is no way in hell I would be out there in the shed trying to fathom the mysteries of the generator. Dark is good. Quiet, but good.

    During the “living better electrically” days, when people actually used electric heat, the saying around here was, “move to the country, and install electric heat. After the first wintah, buy the woodstove you should have had to start with.”

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    1. We have a wood stove, but we no longer have a woodpile. Hauling wood is one of the things we can’t do anymore. For that matter, keeping warm won’t accomplish much without a working well pump — which runs on (you guessed it) electricity. We never got the generator we wanted, though we planned to. We’ve been lucky in not having had any prolonged outages in the 16 years we’ve lived here. We had more outages in Boston than here.

      Basically, our modern lives are not built to survive without power. Unless you’re a survivalist living somewhere off the grid … and I am absolutely sure Garry and I would NEVER survive a week under those conditions (or want to) — we are modern people. I’m a slightly less depending on “the cloud” for entertainment, but the rest of my life needs electricity at the least, and WiFi for the things I love doing.

      Funny how we just slipped into it. But really, weren’t we already dependent on electricity when we were kids? We didn’t have as many devices, but my house growing up wouldn’t have been a place to live very long without power. A couple of days, tops.

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  2. Wonderful uplifting piece of writing. If my computer loses connection for more than five minutes I am lost. I rely a lot on modern machines that only work with electricity. When I reflect on my childhood days, we have no telephone, no television and no washing machine, but we survived. We even played out in the street. They call them the good old days. At the time they were, but I love my dishwasher today. I don’t even both with buying something new to wear, but am now thinking about a selfie stick. How connected can you get to modern life.

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    1. I’m with you. If the PLUG falls out, I get panicky. Modern life … and especially for we seniors … is not something we can do without power. Maybe that’s why our ancestors didn’t live long lives. They wore out hauling water and wood and hunting for dinner. When they got old, they just died.

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  3. We have enough food and water (for bathing, drinking, &c…) to last about three days without electricity. I want to make that three weeks, and eventually — in cases of dire emergency — three months. If we need more than three months of supplies, then we’re screwed because we just don’t have room to store more than that.

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    1. As for entertainment, I have enough yarn and crafting supplies to last me a year. And we both have books out the wazoo. I think my hubby might go through TV withdrawal though.

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      1. Entertainment is the easy part. It’s the water, heat, and food. Our heat doesn’t work without electricity and more importantly, neither does the well pump. No pump, no water. No toilets. No shower. No drinking water. We can last a few days. I know because we have done it, but after that? Our goose is cooked.

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  4. A few years back, we went more than a week without electricity due to a horrendous winter storm. We do have a generator, but it’s only strong enough to run a small heater and one lamp. Better than nothing of course. And fortunately, we have municipal water so that didn’t run out. Also, at that time I wasn’t a blogger, so not having the internet for a week wasn’t as upsetting as it would be now. Toasting marshmallows over candles was kind of cool, though.

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    1. You might think, if you didn’t know better, that having a well means you aren’t dependent on city water, but of course, it’s quite the opposite. Our well is nearly 500 feet deep and without the pump, the water can’t get to the house and up the pipes. And though we have oil heat and a big tank, the heat doesn’t work without electricity. We have a deep freeze and two refrigerators … but it all runs on electricity. We have cable, which doesn’t need electricity per se, but the TV needs it, so even if the cable is working, the things that use it won’t work without power.

      Electricity has been fundamental to human society for more than 100 years. It has woven itself deep into the fabric of our lives and sometimes I think we don’t realize how much we depend on it. It’s just there, like air. Who thinks about it until it goes away?

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  5. The quiet is interesting when there is no humming of fans for various electrical items. When the hurricane hit a few years back.our power boxes were torn off the house. It took us over a week to get power back. It was a really long week. 🙂 That’s one reason I still read real books and always have a book light. 🙂

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    1. We were one of the few places that the hurricane missed. There’s a weird little air circulation bubble and many coastal storms just go around us. Five miles away, it’s devastation … but here, nothing. We barely got any rain and nary a breeze. It has something to do with the shape of the coastline and the hills. On the other hand, any storm coming down from Canada or in from the west slams us and because of the shape of the valley, we get twice as much snow or rain as other towns. But those coastal storms usually skip right past.

      We’ve been lucky. I dare say it’s not something we can count on, but so far, so good. The bad part is that the rainfall is a lot lower here than in other nearby towns and our aquifer has been low for years because the rain misses us. And this year, El Nino kept the worst of winter away, though we did get a fair amount of rain … and I’m hoping we have a good amount of rain this spring. We really need it. Badly.

      We have candles, oil lamps, the wood stove (though no logs for it, though in desperation, we could spare some of the furniture). But we are very far from storm-proof.

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  6. There’s a commercial that airs on the radio station I listen to for some app that plays FM radio on your phone… anyway, the premise is that the power goes out and this family starts freaking the hell out because none of their phones work and they have no idea what’s going on. The kids are ready to have conniption fits because they “have no bars” and “can’t even text or anything”. But with this radio app, they could listen to FM radio on their smartphones and get “the information they need”… and all I can wonder is, what is this, the 1950’s? What kind of catastrophe that we’d otherwise be oblivious to would we need radio to inform us of? And why does it pleasure me so to hear whiny teens complain that their phones don’t work?

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    1. You can always use your cell phone if the power goes out … at least until the batteries die. After which no app is gonna save your sorry ass because no battery, no nothin’.

      I am in no danger hearing the ad because I don’t listen to the radio … maybe if we’re in the car and desperate? Garry listens to the ball game if we’re on the road and he can’t get to a TV. Does radio actually have important information? I thought it was all shock jocks, pop music, and shrieking sports announcers.

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      1. Which is the ultimate irony of the commercial… radio’s good for corporate muzak (Unless you can find a good independent or college station) and endless ads. I don’t even venture into the talk end of the radio dial… blech. I can’t even stand the morning drive time shows…

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  7. Eloquently written, especially these lines:
    “The silence and darkness are frightening.
    Connectivity is life support. We have forgotten — in many cases, never knew — how to live without it.”

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