Net Loss

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past ten days – by far the longest I’ve gone between blog posts in many years – I wish I had a more noble answer for you. But chalk it up to having no Internet service at home, being incredibly busy during that span, and not having much to say anyway during that time span.

(By the way, I don’t want this post to turn into one long Verizon rant, but basically they screwed me for eight days, giving me all sorts of conflicting reasons for why my Internet was working, wasting my time every night, and then concluding by telling me I could wait another 12 days for a technician to come out and see what he could do. I canceled on the spot, dialed up Comcast, and was quickly told they could have me up and running within 24 hours.)

One dear Christian brother of mine told me he had had a recent spell of three days without Internet, and it did him wonders – he and his wife actually had good conversation in the evenings, he got to catch up on reading books, and he generally enjoyed the detoxification from being online all the time. Another dear Christian brother of mine responded to my sighing about not having Internet access with a “good for you,” and proceeded to tell me he wished his Internet would go down because he found the whole thing more pain than pleasure.

Alas, I’m not nearly as deep as these two friends. It was not lost on me that my unplanned Internet fast began right before Ash Wednesday. Could it be that while others were giving up chocolate or meat or sports websites that God was asking me to give up connectivity? Surely I sure needed such a break, whether from the time spent poring over websites or blabbering away on my blogs.

If that was the lesson, I most certainly failed it. Unlike my one friend, I did not use the time away from the web to strengthen my relationship with my wife; if anything, I did damage, responding to her gracious acts of empathy in the midst of my frustration against Verizon by spilling over some of that frustration upon her. (It’s the “perk” of being a loved one, is receiving the collateral damage of someone boiling over.) And unlike my other friend, I did not see the time away from the web as a moment of relief from the information overload; if anything, I pined all the more, sighing aloud everywhere I turned because I could not get access to something I would’ve otherwise quickly looked up. (I suppose it would have been one thing to just give up Internet for a couple of weeks, whereas for me it was taking away Internet and replacing it with hour upon hour of frustrating tech support conversations.)

It did not help that web-related to-do’s were starting to pile up, like bills and taxes. It definitely did not help that, even worse than not having Internet access, one to three hours each evening was spent on hold with Verizon, yelling at Verizon, explaining the same thing over and over again to yet another wave of Verizon customer service representative. In short, it was an awful time away.

In the grand scheme of things, ten days is nothing. I could still check my emails off my smart phone (although I don’t have a very good one, so it was slow and clunky). I live close enough to home that the times I had to be home to wait for a contractor were not too terribly inconvenient. And, I did try to reign in my frustration and general sense of discombobulation in the spirit of seeing this all as one big object lesson from God about taking a break from things and being able to let go of frustrating incident after frustrating incident.

Nevertheless, it was a miserable time. And, if it was a test, I failed badly. But, for better and worse, the test is over, and I am connected again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to check today’s weather, catch up on ten days’ of econ blogs, and download that tax form I’ve been unable to complete my return without.

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