Thursday Thoughts: A Timely Reminder

What an interesting day it was yesterday, to say the least! Not that anything major happened, but something did happen that reminded me of the infrastructures that we all use and rely on, daily, and might tend to take for granted. I’m specifically speaking of the main ways we communicate and get information in this day and age: via the internet and cell phone.

The problem was noticed after waking up and showering, having the morning coffee, putting the garbage out for the weekly pick-up, and turning on the radio for some light, relaxing music at 0645. I plugged in the modem for the computer, but noticed that it wasn’t connecting – it just blinked, indicating that there was an issue with the internet. Another odd thing was this: the digital clocks on the DVD unit and the stove read the correct time, but the ones on the microwave oven and the coffee-maker were blinking as if there had been a power outage. Sometimes, a power outage affects the internet connection, so I wasn’t terribly concerned. I turned on the TV to see if the cable was out as well, since it isn’t unusual to have cable and internet issues following a power surge or outage. All of the channels were blank; nothing was being broadcast. Since the same company provides the internet and cable service, I turned on my cell phone to call and report a service outage – but, there was no cellular service either; not even a 4G signal. Wi-fi was completely non-existent, so the phone was useless unless there was an emergency, as 911 is still active under those conditions. It was quite odd to have all three lines of information inaccessible at the same time, and it got me to thinking: we’re prepared for a lengthy power outage, but having backup access for telephone, internet, and other forms of communication are also necessary – especially in this brave, new world we’re entering in this wonderful year of two-aught-one-seven.

Just the other day, people were stuck at airports because of some mysterious issue with the computer system associated with U. S. Customs. We’ve been aware, for some time now, of hacking and other denial-of-service attacks on everything that is automated and / or computer-controlled. To me, being ultra-reliant on things that can be woefully unreliable isn’t the wisest course – and far too many people take way too many things for granted.

Myself, I rely on my computer and cell phone for many things. If those things are unavailable, however, I know what alternatives I can use to maintain contact with family and friends. Growing up, my family lived in places that had no electricity other than the battery-power provided by the boat engines. I’ve gone months without television, and know what it’s like to have no computer or cell phone – so, I’m not rendered helpless without them. I don’t take those things for granted and expect them to always be there, but I have a feeling that quite a few people worldwide do. I wonder, sometimes…what will those people do if the things that they take for granted disappeared tomorrow? How many people would really be prepared to deal with lack of internet access?

How about you? Would you know how to cope? Would you be able to communicate with family and friends without computer or cell phone? Can you even conceive of that possibility? I can think of probably two people, out of all the blogs I follow, who could answer “Yes” – and I believe them. They demonstrate the ability to do so, in their daily lives! Most people, though, only THINK that they’re prepared…and I seriously doubt their abilities, intellect, self-reliance and competency. Nothing personal, of course!

Oh, in case you wondered, all systems were back on by 1600 hours. This gave me more than enough time to drag old equipment out, dust it off, and test it out. Things that many people consider archaic are life-savers – and they might be needed sooner than we think. It is what it is…being prepared is crucial. I’d rather have something available and not need it, than need it and not have it. That one bit of personal dedication has saved my life more than once. There is something to be said about knowing how to utilize analog equipment in this overly-automated, digital world!

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