21st century problems, 20th century solutions | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

14 July, 2014

21st century problems, 20th century solutions

Warning: Pointless ramble ahead. AKA the most fun kind of ramble.

Do you ever have days (or even weeks) where nothing seems to go right?

Last week was sort of like that for me. To make a long story short: I had a small series of minor screw-ups culminating in my home internet crapping out for the better part of five days, so it became extremely difficult to access and fix said screw-ups. Can you say "productivity killer"?

My lack of connectivity (and resulting freakout) got me thinking about how reliant I've become on the internet these past few years. Aside from it being absolutely essential for things like work and my blog, it dominates my life in a few other key areas. So I had to revert to some of my pre-internet behavior for a couple of days. Novel or annoying? You tell me.

Entertainment. My boyfriend and I are what you would call "cord cutters"—we've ditched cable/satellite TV subscriptions in favor of various streaming services (like Netflix). I also rarely buy CDs these days, and try not to download music illegally, so I use internet music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora a hell of a lot. Internet broken = none of that stuff works.

20th century solution? During the Great Internet Blackout of '14 (yes, I'm being really dramatic) I suddenly found myself very interested in the few local broadcast stations we can pick up with an antenna. Video footage of some random dude drawing? A poorly-produced chat show with some middle-aged guys talking about skyscrapers? Sure, why not. I also found myself acutely aware of the fact that I still own a VCR, and that it can actually do more than serve as a stand for my TV set (though it does do a good job of that). We still own some CDs and DVDs and even vinyl records too. Maybe this is not a bad excuse to use some of them for the first time in a while.

News: I don't know about you, but I sure as hell don't get a newspaper delivered to my house anymore. I guess broadcast TV news is an option, but it's usually pretty sensational and not very informative so I try to avoid it. Thanks to the internet, I can connect with news sources from all over the world ... when its working, of course.

20th century solution?
I still own several for-realsies radios. (I think we're establishing that I'm electronics hoarder here. I feel OK about that.) Time to plug one in and tune it to NPR.

Document storage: I think most people in general are keeping fewer and fewer paper files and moving towards having everything stored electronically, or even in "the cloud". Cloud storage is awesome because you can access it anywhere, but not when the !@$$%$^ internet isn't working.

20th century solution? Not much I could do about this one while my internet was blacked out, but I made a point of backing up a bunch of essential files to a thumb drive once it was restored. I recommend doing the same.

Multi-century, multi-purpose solution to boredom: Read a damn book. Yeah, we hoard those too.

Anyway, my internet service was eventually restored. While I'm not glad to be behind on work, it was sort of fun to play with some of my old crap for a couple of days. Maybe it would be nice to take an internet "vacation" once in a while. But for now I'm going to write my blog whilst half-watching TV on my Roku box, kthx.

Are you reliant on the internet in your everyday life? If it were to cease working tomorrow, how would you spend your time?


  1. It's funny you should say that - my sister has kids, and I remember her telling me once that one of them asked her flat-out what a radio was. I thought that was really funny because growing up we listened to the radio all the time (gotta call in and request your favorite songs!) but yeah, I guess that's not really as much of a thing anymore. And holy hell yes, Sykpe/VOIP is so necessary if you're calling internationally. I think it would cost like a dollar a minute or something stupid like that if I called outside North America on my mobile phone.

  2. I actually brought a little radio the other week from Target - mainly because with moving I though we'd be internet/cableless for weeks. Nah they just came the day after we moved in. I grew up with radios, I listen to NPR and the local rock/classic rock station so for me it's just natural to carry that on to this year. Plus easier to pick it up, plug it in then moving computer speakers around the house! And as for music - well we're sorted with over 1000 vinyl records so never have to worry there! And if I had to go without the internet, give me the radio, my crochet/cross stitch and my garden and i'll be able to entertain myself for a good couple of days, no worries there.

  3. The skyscraper program was actually on Sinovision English and it was pretty much the most pointless thing ever. Three guys being like "Should there be skyscrapers? Yes, yes there should." I did watch a cooking show on WNYC though, exciting stuff. I was without internet at home as recently as 2009 so you'd think I would be used to it, but it's so easy to get hooked on streaming video and things like that.

  4. Radios are definitely more portable than computers, but now that smartphones are basically tiny little computers you can stream radio from those! Hard to get more portable than that. I find that the reception on the real radio can be kind of bad in my apartment, so I usually listen to NPR on my Roku box. Oh how wired we've become ...

  5. If this happened, let's say just a few years back when netflix wasn't great then I would have survived. I did survive on just network tv for the majority of my life BUT knowing how much variety and the choices there are now to watch I know I would go crazy!

    I for one used to have cable and like you have become a cord cutter and use streaming to watch my shows. I do have a leaf antenna which allows me to watch network HD tv but nothing fantastic with all the commercials.

    As for news, yeah I usually get it off the net. Music, I have my own playlist to play but I do have a clock radio in every room because I still like them.

    But could I live a few days without the internet? No because it is very much like a tv/phone type of communication media.

    Glad you have everything sorted out!

  6. Haha yes. I only started using streaming video to watch TV maybe 3 years ago? Before that it was all antenna or regular cable. I feel like streaming, on-demand entertainment is one of those things you can't really put back in the box once it's out ... like how 15 years ago you could still find payphones everywhere because everyone and their granny didn't have a mobile phone yet, but now they're a rarity outside of airports and bus stations and things like that.

  7. I would go crazy without internet access. I have cable so I wouldn't be BORED per say but I wouldn't be able to blog or read other blogs which would be really annoying. I have internet on my phone so I might be able to work around it. I would def read more often though. I have a huge list of books I want to read but blogging has made my read time alot slower than usual. I used to be able to get through a book in a few days but since I started my blog I do that more than read.

  8. Yeah, I think you're right. There's still plenty to do without the internet but not having it makes you feel sort of "cut off" from everything. I was constantly checking my email on my phone during the outage though, no question about that!