For about a month, we have been noticing that our DSL internet has been getting slower and slower. Over the weekend, it came to a screeching halt. When I called ATT yesterday, I got a tech support recording that tried to walk me through the repair process. The recording and I together came to the conclusion that there was a faulty connection somewhere along the line. I inspected the line that ran from our phone plug in inside through the wall and alongside the outside of the house to the phone junction box outside. Sure enough, something–probably a mouse–had chewed the insulation off the outside of the wire in one place on our back porch. It’s not the first time that has happened. Twice before we ran the line through our attic and the wires were chewed completely in two. Apparently we don’t feed our vermin enough–or maybe too much.
But I decided to put on my Mr. Fixit hat and repair the line myself. The hard part, I knew, would be running the line through the wall. So the first thing I tried to do was patch the line. I worked on that for about an hour. That didn’t work. Then I decided to rerun the line. By this time it was getting dark. I found some old Cat 3 phone line and started over. Running the line through the wall went a lot easier than I anticipated. I then hooked the line to the phone plug in inside and then ran the line to the junction box. I checked the router. No signal. I double checked the wiring: the junction box called for red, green, black and yellow wires, as did the plug in inside. My line had brown, blue, orange and green wires. I checked and double checked the connections both inside and out, but was unsuccessful in getting the router to work.
So last night we went without internet. It’s become so much a part of our lives that we assume we are always connected. We couldn’t check our bank balance, Skype our kids, check our email or Facebook or Twitter, and so on. It’s a hassle that I hope to rectify very quickly.
What’s funny about it is that the Great Disconnect that was such a hassle last night became more of a blessing this morning. I wasn’t interested in connecting. Instead, I sought disconnect from the world as I went through my devotions, meditated and tried to get centered before the day started. Because the downside of having instant connection to everything is that it is hard to disconnect from the world. As a Christian, that’s important to me. Because in order to have Jesus in my heart, and contemplate the sacrifice He has made for me and what that means to my daily life, I have to get the other trivial stuff out of my brain that constantly bombards me.
What’s scary to me is that young people often can’t envision a life of disconnect. I teach a class called Interpersonal Communication, and I ask students to consider going camping for a weekend without cell phones, radio, or any other electronic device. Many say that that would be dangerous. My response is, What did we do before we had cell phones? How is it more dangerous now?
There’s a place for the internet, cell phones and social networks in the lives of writers. There’s a place for solitude as well. In fact, the biggest challenge I have as a writer is not lack of time, but lack of mental concentration. When I can give myself permission to not think of the thousands of other obligations in my life, then I can do some amazing things.
It’s just getting there that’s the challenge.