Babyboomer Ponderings on Electronic Dependencies

As I’ve noted before, I live in the boonies. This is by choice. When I retired I moved to my lakehouse, not only because it was a place where I could relax and enjoy nature but also so I could afford to retire a little early. Over the past six years I’ve done a lot of remodeling to make it into a home versus a cabin. I have a few things left to do but I’ve made great progress. (Or rather my contractors have, to give credit where credit is due.)


There are a few problems with this lifestyle, however. One is that, contrary to what many believe, it is NOT cheaper to live in the country. For example, you spend more on gasoline. The grocery store is 15 miles away and the nearest Wal-Mart is 25 miles, likewise for stores like Home Depot and Office Max. Utility costs are not only high but often undependable. Services such as internet and television providers are WAY more expensive. There’s no cable out here, at least now, the one in existence several years ago now defunct. The main choice for both is satellite, which is expensive as well as undependable, especially during inclement weather.


Thus, it’s not particularly unusual for me to turn on the computer like I did yesterday morning and have no internet. This is only annoying since so much of my life as a writer and astrologer depends on it, to say nothing of keeping in touch with family and friends. Let’s just say I have three websites, three Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, blogs on WordPress, Tumblr and Medium, and a password list that comprises a seven-page Excel file with another page or two worth of additions handwritten in the margins. Someday I’ll update it. Hahaha, yeah right.

But annoying is synonymous with modern life. They’re everywhere, whether it’s traffic jams, long lines (which I generally avoid in the boonies), bad weather, junk mail of the snail and electronic varieties, hoaxes, scams, phone solicitors and erratic cell phone signals (another constant up here). I must say, however, that when my internet goes out I feel a momentary surge of panic.

What if it doesn’t come back up?

What, if like the preppers say, TSHTF?

Then what?

To date my internet has always come back up, whether on its own, unassisted, or through intervention of some sort that typically involves a protracted wait listening to annoying messages or bad music until the next available customer service representative answers.

But what if the day comes when it doesn’t?

Just think of how vulnerable you are if you’re one of those “bundle” people who has your TV, internet and telephone all dependent on your internet connection. Cell phones aren’t much better. Where I live I can barely get a signal most the time. Some providers have good coverage but others don’t. I have to go in one place in my house to even send a text message. But what if it wouldn’t go at all?

Since this is “business as usual” here in the boonies, every time it happens serves as a reminder that these services may not always be there. If you live in an area where they seldom go out then you’re even more inclined to take them for granted. That may not be a good thing.

typewriterI’m old enough that I grew up without all these electronic gadgets. We babyboomers wrote letters with a pen or possibly a typewriter. My first two novels were written on a typewriter! Phones were landlines, long-distance calls expensive and rarely made except for emergencies. TV reception was via antenna to local stations with network affiliations. I remember when the idea of “pay TV” first came up and how controversial it was. My father refused to own a car with an automatic transmission, power steering or power brakes because they were beyond his skills as a mechanic to repair. Today’s new cars have electronic systems to rival a 747!

Communications have definitely improved, perhaps too much so, considering how much time social media can consume. It’s how we connect with others around the world. That’s really pretty cool. I have friends, fans and clients worldwide whom I’ve never met, some of whom I know better than certain family members or neighbors. This is great.

But considering the precarious state of the world these days, this also makes us particularly vulnerable should the unthinkable happen. What if not only the internet and cell phones went out but electricity as well? While people may have lived without it for millennia, we have not. Those who have been through a catastrophic storm that has left them without power for days or weeks have quickly discovered what it’s like. I’ll bet those who have experienced it are much more prepared if it happens again. They know what it’s like to go into a grocery store with empty shelves.

My refrigerator went out one time and I lived out of an ice chest for a few weeks, which was no fun. I’ll explain it by saying that as an astrologer I know there are certain times you are ill-advised to buy a major appliance and I was waiting it out or I would have had another lemon. Trust me on that one. Anyway, I had to drive into town (15 miles away, remember?) to get ice every few days. There’s another assumption, being able to drive into town much less buy ice!

6160185_sIt doesn’t hurt to give it some thought once in a while and put your lifestyle in the proper perspective, especially if you spend a large part of your life on the computer or watching television. If nothing else, it helps you appreciate those everyday luxuries a little bit more. All it would take is a huge solar flare or an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) courtesy of some hostile country or group and it’s over. Ka-boom! China, North Korea, Russia, ISIS…

What if?

Think about it.


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