Dial Up for a Day


First published in Pacifica Patch November 9, 2011

Recently, I had the excruciating experience of using the Internet via a dial-up connection. You may be wondering, “Do people still use dial-up?” or if you are of a younger generation, “What the heck is dial-up?” Yes, some folks still use dial-up, and I had the rare (thank heaven) opportunity to revisit that delightful, primitive means of accessing the web. You younger folks, just Google it if you want to know.

Remember back in the “You’ve Got Mail” days when Meg Ryan waited excitedly through the prolonged, grainy phone connections to get to her email? Remember those days when you were just thrilled to have Internet, and to have this whole world of information at your fingertips? I remember, in 2001, when our family first got online.  I was so eager to find information on old books that I had read and be reunited with these treasures from the past.  Oh, and music? Before YouTube and iTunes, there was Napster, Limewire came later, and people had their own music sites like Joe’s Audio Paradise where you could find those old songs that you grew up with. I loved going to that site and showing the kids my music.

Well, things have certainly changed. We have DSL, high-speed and other versions of really fast Internet that I can’t even identify, let alone afford. As I waited for the little AOL three-step progression, I cheered with the AOL crowd when I finally got online.  The benefits of this experience are not to be dismissed though. While I waited for my Facebook to load, I got my Master’s thesis completed. While I waited for Yahoo to access my mail, I caught the first half of “Gone with the Wind” and finally by the time I finished a mild job search on Craigslist, I was old enough for retirement.

I have to admit; I found this experience rather painful. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to instantaneous Internet. Are we so addicted to moving at the twinkling of an eye that we get bent out of shape if the Internet goes out or if, heaven forbid, the electricity goes out? I was waiting in the grocery store line and was getting a little anxious that the checker was going too slow. Geez! Maybe those serendipitous moments of pause are gifts to get us to downshift a bit, take a deep breath and even look a little longer at the children who will be grown before you know it because they do grow at high speed.

So, despite the frustration on my dial-up day, I learned a valuable lesson in patience and gained an understanding that I may not want all things at high-speed. I hardly remember when my older kids were young, so I will keep a dial-up mentality and spend time enjoying the little ones while they are young.

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