When technology fails

We’ve all, no doubt, experienced the frustration of painfully slow and sometimes nonexistent internet connections. Those pesky interruptions that seem to occur while we are binge watching a new series or smack in the middle of the workday when others are depending on us for assistance, or we have specific tasks that can’t be completed without an internet connection.

Technology, and its associated challenges, almost daily impact our lives whether we are working from home, learning from home, or attempting to stream online content. A weak internet signal can bring our online activities to a screeching halt in a nanosecond and leave us with no viable options and at the mercy of others.

Those periods of a painfully slow signal accompanied with what is often referred to as the spinning wheel of death icon, remind me of the days in the 1960s when many who lived in rural areas were connected to what was then referred to as a “party line” phone network. A “party line” allowed multiple homes to use the same telephone line but was also limited in that if someone in another home was already talking on the phone, other users had no choice but to wait for the line to become available or to politely ask the user to end their conversation. We did, however, have the option of listening to the conversations of our neighbors; which often was good entertainment for the entire family.

When technology fails us today, the typical scenario is first attempting to reset our modems in hopes that the process will reconnect us to the outside world. If resetting the modem does not work, many of us will then restart our devices and hope for the best. When all else fails, we call our internet service provider and cross our fingers hoping we will get a customer service representative who speaks English and can understand our Southern drawl. More often than not, unfortunately, the person on the other end of the help line is having as much problem understanding us and our description of the problem as we are with understanding their accent and technical jargon.

If luck is on our side when we do make the dreaded phone call to customer service, the best possible scenario is that the representative is able to correct our technical issue remotely and have us back up and running in a matter of minutes. If a technician is needed to make an in-person evaluation or repair, the wait time for service can, and usually is, days later. As dependent as we have become on technology—particularly within the last year as most have worked and learned from home—waiting days for a resolution can seem more like a temporary declaration of disability rather than a timely solution to our issues.

Regardless of how or why we use different types of technology in our lives, when the processes work optimally, the world is at our fingertips. However, when technology fails us, we are left in the uncontrollable void of no internet service.

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