Cruising the Slow Lane of the Web

My new ISP is crap. If you’re reading this blog, I got it to work today. I have seen the sickly dinosaur of failure (Chrome’s default page for a bad connection) more times in the last week than I did in the entire six years I had my previous ISP service. Sadly, that’s not a hyperbole. It’s really terrible. I find myself staring at the word "loading" a lot lately and those little swirling dots that indicate my video is buffering. YouTube recognized a loss of speed and offered up some helpful suggestions, the first of which was “consider switching to a faster/more reliable ISP.” Oh YouTube, my old friend, if only I could. Netflix just tells me “oops, there was a problem.”

I was waylaid at Wal-Mart yesterday by a very enthusiastic (borderline threateningly psychotic) salesperson for Verizon who wanted me to switch carriers, after he wanted to have a really loud conversation from fifty feet away from me about “the best part of my day” while I was attempting to look at the items I came into the store for. (There are a lot of sun protection choices here in Florida. Comparison shopping was difficult while I was being yelled at with infomercial-levels of sales pressure.) The dude was actually kind of scary and I wondered why the Wal-Mart manager had allowed him to continue his aggressive sales tactics, especially given that the neighborhood is within Comcast’s monopoly. (Comcast is the North Korea of ISPs.) I don’t think the Verizon Sham-Wow guy got many customers. I did find my industrial strength sunscreen though. My resistance to UV radiation is a topic of protracted discussion.

So, I have crappy, slow, unreliable internet access. It’s good enough I guess, and the speed reminds me of the “good” old days when I still had dial-up. At least I don’t have to listen to the whining telephone noises. The download speeds are about the same though. I see a lot of placeholders for images that haven’t loaded and I wait a good long time now to find out if I’m more Taylor Swift’s cat or Beyonce’s dog on BuzzFeed quizzes. Also, I really need to know what my taste in cheese says about my taste in men as quickly as possible. This is just painful.

What is the lesson in all of this? It occurs to me that I had become too internet-dependent and the slow speeds and likelihood of being disconnected in the middle of an Orange is the New Black episode binge reminds me that I used to do a lot of other things with my free time. Since I now live in a subtropical paradise, I can literally go to the beach every day. Why am I wasting time on the internet? I’ve got sunscreen called “Beach Defense” so I’m clearly ready to do battle with the waves. (Who names these things?)

So as I stare at a T-Rex with pixels for eyes and short little arms that can’t reach my webpage, I am forced to ponder my pre-browsing existence. I used to participate in other activities. I used to draw pictures and read books. I used to crochet and make quilts. I even used to write Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction. Okay, maybe I don’t need to return to all of my previous hobbies. The point is, the internet has subtly sucked away my free time and I’m only aware of it when it isn’t functioning as advertised. I am actually grateful for being forced to return to a simpler time when always-on internet access wasn’t the god-given right of first world living.

In summation, the internet gods want me to go outside. Thank you, Comcast, for being so sh!tty. And, since you were wondering, I'm more TSwift’s cat. Meow.