Disclaimer: I haven’t actually stepped back in time, so please don’t ask me how (although if you’ve discovered the secret of time travel, let me know. Sounds like fun, does that).
Last week, I talked about how I’m in limbo because my new life hasn’t properly started yet. So life is rather plodding along pleasantly at the moment – not quite at a snail’s pace but I’m no greyhound either (hmmm…I’m not sure I was ever at greyhound speeds). Think of me as a little faster than the tortoise but I still can’t see the hare (I know, I know, the tortoise taught us that slow and steady wins the race but I think the real moral of the story there is ‘don’t have a nap on the job’). But it’s not just my present limbo-status that is making me go slower. It’s the culture.
Things are different here. Back home, everyone is in a rush to get everywhere. No one waits around, everyone huffs when there’s a queue, people bump into each other in their need to get to where they’re going thirty seconds faster, and there is…you know…a strong technological basis on which we work. It’s not like that here though. People expect to wait. Everything is shut for two hours for lunch (even the restaurants and cafes), everything is shut on Sundays and Monday afternoons. People take their time at tills or in queues or where-ever they are because, why not? And the people are absolutely lovely too. It’s nice, there is a strong balance between work and home life and that’s a good thing. But it feels a little odd to me too, a little like I’ve stepped back in time.
The tech doesn’t help. I’ve never really been tech-obsessed, or even tech-savvy really, but I’ve always relied on a computer or laptop with internet access. I didn’t realise quite how much though, not until I moved here. It hasn’t been that long since they upgraded from dial-up to broadband and still, I’m not sure if there is even plans to upgrade to fibre-optic. The internet where I am comes from a satellite rather than a cable and the connection is okay. Slower than I’m used to, but okay. It seems that just as people here are happy to wait in the queue whilst the old lady digs a few extra cents from the bottom her handbag, so they are willing to wait for their Google search for toptractors.com to load. It’s quaint really. It’s sweet.
Or it is, until you reach your download limit and things slow down to tortoise speeds. A drugged tortoise trying to crawl through treacle whilst having its back legs held in place by a cruel child. Then it’s not so quaint. Then it’s not so sweet. Then I realise just how much I rely on the internet in everyday life. For everything. Everyday. Seriously, I didn’t know how bad it was. I even had to go to the bookcase and find a thesaurus today. A real thesaurus with pages made from paper, with printed words on it. Honestly, I’m not lying. A real thesaurus. (As an aside, I still read printed books as well as ebooks, but for some reason, looking at a printed thesaurus seemed so 1992).
I was cooking yesterday and wanted to convert a measurement. I thought “Oh, I’ll Google it.” No, I won’t. We were chatting about how to get somewhere – “I’ll just look up the directions,” or not. Opening hours for the supermarket? “Great, I’ll just…oh.” Can you see a pattern forming? Yeah…
My parents pay for an adequate download limit for their uses, but what usually lasts them a month, we’ve consumed in just two weeks – and that was me being careful. I haven’t actually downloaded anything per se, other than normal internet browsing – emails, social media, and so on. The limit has just been sucked into the time vortex never to be found again.
“Still,” the man told me on the phone when I tried to wangle an increased limit, “you realise you’ve got unlimited broadband between midnight and 8am, right?” So here I am, at 2am, scheduling blog posts and checking emails, catching up on Facebook and Twitter.
But do you know what? It’s okay. Despite my rocking back and forth like a withdrawing addict, I’m dealing with it (the fact that I’m still up at 2am notwithstanding, obviously). It’s teaching me some discipline (because, I’ve discovered, I don’t need to check Facebook after every sentence I write), and the time I spend at my laptop is now significantly more productive. I swear I’ve done two days’ work in the space of one today. I’ve even spent some time with my husband, without being too distracted by a bleeping phone or the notification dong.
It’s all terribly anachronistic, but do you know what? Perhaps restricted internet access isn’t such a bad thing after all.