Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Gentle Hum of Anxiety

The last couple of days were an involuntary internet blackout. Round about noon on Friday, there was a din of WTFs, Sonofabitches, Goddamnits, Dagnabbits, Mommy! and Fuck me's! coming from West end of Cartersville, Georgia, as thousands of AT&T customers tried to surf the web and got stiff-armed by the Broadband Not Available message.

I, myself, had just performed several happy pirouettes around the deck after having just posted for the first time in two years at PoliTits navigating Blogger's new format while my heart pounded at the possibility of being reunited with my stupidly deleted blog. I returned to my seat to post my elation at having my old blog back, I saw that a couple of friends emailed me about something called Google+ and when I tried to open the first email.....nothing. Loading, loading, loading. I tried another tab. Statcounter. Nothing. Another. Nothing. Another. Broadband link error.

About that same time, MathMan threw open the bedroom window and hollered "What's up with the internet?" I could hear commotion coming from the living room. Grumbling, I went inside, remembering to reach up and snag the leaping cat who desperately wants to return to her feral roots or at least track down the squirrel who licks the deck every morning to ask him why in the hell he does that. She started to claw me, but saw the expression on my face and thought better of it, jumping with one swift motion to the floor and disappearing behind the sofa.

Nathan charged up the basement stairs, his XBox controller in his hand. "What's wrong with the internet? I was in the middle of a game!"

Sophie, who was awake during the day so that she could attend a party at 1pm, shook her iPod Touch. "I was watching Roseanne, but Netflix just went out. Did you cancel Netflix?"

Chloe was alternately packing for a camping trip and checking her email for an important message. "What the hell?" And then more words I won't repeat here because she shouldn't be using those words in front of her parents.

A sound from outside drew my attention. I tugged open the humidity-sticky front door and was met with a wailing sound made up of the collective epithets, oaths, threats and smart remarks from all those disappointed ATandT customers who couldn't check their bank statements, water their Farmville farms or upload photos of their privates. One neighbor wearing two oven mitts and a pair of her kid's swim goggles, wielded a pair of kitchen sheers on the metal stump housing the Comcast cable hub.

"What are you doing?"

"I was in the middle of searching for a recipe when the stupid internet pooped out! I'm dumping AT&T for Comcast. Right now," she said, blowing her hair out of her face. "Listen, watch for the cops. They patrol around the neighborhood at about this time every day." We stay at home parents and involuntarily and voluntarily retired people know things like this. I looked over my shoulder checking for the Black and White.

Another neighbor was squirting lighter fluid on a pile of kindling on his front lawn. "Jerry, are you going to send smoke signals?"

"Yeah, right. Smoke signals. No, this is for lighting our torches so we can make a show of force." Assorted other neighbors assembled on his lawn, scuffing their feet in the gravel along the curb, trying not to trample the impatiens or tip his bird bath. They carried iPhones, Androids, and pitchforks. The neighbor one house over was dismantling his ratty old picket fence while his wife stood next to him tearing sheets.

"We can use these for torches, Jer! I'm sick of painting it anyway," he shouted over the crowd.

Oh, sure now they're ready to take to the streets. I wasn't going to waste this opportunity. If people were whipped up enough to protest, let them at least spend their on things that would help the greater good. "Listen, while you're at it, would you mind protesting Georgia's disgusting new immigration law, the Republicans who never mention the deficit when they're running it up, two and a half wars, our corrupt governor, and corporate welfare in a time of high unemployment and record profits?"

My neighbor shook his can of lighter fluid at me. "You're one of those commie pinkos, aren't you? I told Sue to keep an eye on you when you started hanging your laundry out to dry and you guys replaced your lawn mower with one of those push mowers. Real Americans ride their lawnmowers!"

Yeah, this was going nowhere. "Enjoy your mob, Jerry, and don't forget that AT&T doesn't support net neutrality. Add that to your protest, okay?"

"Net what?"

"Nevermind." I slammed the front door, glad to block out the racket.

"Well, the TV still works," MathMan said holding out the dvd of Social Network we'd gotten in the mail from Netflix. "Want to watch a movie after we take Sophie to her party?"

Later MathMan, Nate and I ate popcorn, drank root beer and watched the movie about how Facebook came about. Occasionally, one of us would reach into a vibrating pocket and pull out our phone to read a text.

"I know there's some message here about modern life," I said.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, while we're sitting here watching a movie about how Facebook was invented, most of my texts are from Facebook."

Full circle.


Just for laughs: First World Problems.


  1. Lisa, I have been off the internet for awhile now. Not blogging, deleted blip account (where I spent way too much time) and only doing the computer thing at work usually and doing actual work while I am at it ;)

    Anyway, but I miss all you guys. You are in my head and while I have never met you in the real world, you are really and truly a part of my world. Thanks for continuing to blog and for being here for me when I decide to catch back up with you all.

  2. Reminded me of this Twilight Zone episode.

    "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" from Wikipedia

  3. Ain't it the truth? Internet deprivation stops us dead in our tracks. (Is that a good thing or a bad thing???)

    Love your clever writing and so glad I found you (via buddy Fragrant Liar.) I'll be checking in often!

  4. Hey, commie pinko, I've been trying to post a comment for two hours! Interwebs FAIL!

    AT&T is like the Frankenstein of our times. Get the torches and the BBQ lighter fluid!


  5. Ummm... What is this internets you speak of?

  6. Who's really pissed when the internets is down? Spies, that's who ... The ones in secret government basements who are tapped in your computer ... Who track everything you do and watch you through that tiny camera on your computer.

    Besides that ... What do you really know about AT&T or even who they are. Rumor has it they're listening in on everyone.

    I bet you don't even know who your children are working for.

  7. So, the first time I clicked to post a comment, I was given a Service Unavailable error. I would credit you for doing that on purpose, for laughs, but I think it is just luck.

    Your writing is so hilarious. I think you could totally write screen plays. Your TV shows would be

  8. Sounds about as tense between neighbors in Georgia as it does here in Wisconsin. Almost.

  9. You, my dear, are pure delight. 'Tho your neighborhood is crazy scary.

  10. Our Nova Scotia internet service tends to drop daily. Simply because we're not always jumping and clicking around on links here, there, and everywhere and might simply be reading a long article is no reason to assume we've grown bored with having the service running.

    This was a great description of how the revolution will start for all the wrong reasons.

    ps: I loved First World Problems!

  11. I'm going to see if I can get hired as one of those 'bring out your dead!' guys after the internet crashes. As long as I don't have to scrape brains off the wall.

  12. I'm glad you're back. I love you, you know. The beginning of this sounded SO LIKE my house last week--AT&T came to try (again) to fix the freaking phone and it reset our DSL service--the 4 directions of 'we can't live with no internet' fired at me. The straight DSL worked--but one computer for 4 people is inadequate and there was much bitching until I could figure it out (I had to reset our password, then each unit had to log in as if it was the first time) GADS, how did we survive without it? But your redneck neighbors crack me up, too.

    Sincerely, your fellow commie pinko

  13. Its CRAZY how we go berzerk about losing internet or cell phone, or blogger, but we don't freak out as much over the fact Republicans are holding my state's budget hostage over VOUCHERS and borrowing against money we WON'T get from the Federal Government when the other Republicans default our economy over their "fiscal responsibility"


  14. I hear they have all the Internet you need in Californie-- enough for every man, woman, and child. That's where I'm heading.

  15. Funny, while I watched the movie Social Network, I also received several text from Facebook! Full circle indeed.

    And, whenever my internet goes out, I have been known to FLIP OUT.

  16. Trust me Ranger Bob, we may have the internet in CA but it is damned expensive and Comcast has outages, too. Like when it rains or when you are waiting for an e-mail about a job or when you finally sit down to watch a movie for the first time in weeks.

  17. Sometimes at work I remember those Jetsons cartoons, where George kicks back most of the day and gets annoyed when he has to press a few buttons during the course of his afternoon.

    We're all going to end up like George.

  18. this is hysterical, i can see all these people, trying to think of a nice way to say a not-very-nice thing...why? oh, i have no idea really... i can imagine all this happening and you saying exactly all this to them while they're at it.

    and isn't it a drag when they yank our service away even tho we are paying the for it and minding our own business as well? i have ATT them til (their) death do us part.


  19. Losing the internets connection is crazymaking. Besides being the best communication link for people you do want to hang out with, it's like the Swiss Army knife of humanity.
    Before the husband can walk down the hall to get the paper phone book, I've got the web site up, hours posted & already calling the phone #.
    When some annoying entity says they can't move forward without some document, we can scan & zap the paperwork to them lightening bolt fast. Take that!
    Getting breaking news for news junkies really makes newspapers old news by the time the paper arrives.
    I've already read the analysis & several different perspectives by the time that rolled up daily is delivered to the box.
    Staying in touch with family spread out from Montana to Boston is really nice.
    No wonder it has become such an essential tool for us.
    Love the angry villager scenario you painted!


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