Friday, February 19, 2010

Mommy, I've gotta go online!

Internet connectivity is essential. It’s as simple as that. You need to find Internet periodically, just like you need to eat and use the toilet periodically. You might be able to go without it for a day or two, but basically, let’s face it, Internet access has become a fundamental human need.

Unfortunately, with the spread of 3G and mobile Internet, it's getting harder to find Wifi, and even more difficult to find free WiFi in major cities worldwide. When you are traveling, roaming costs are too high to make that a practical option.

I lugged my laptop around London all day while there with my kids, because I couldn’t get wireless where I was staying, so I needed to get a fix during the day. The kids moaned and whined as the 4th café in a row told us they don’t have Internet (WTF?). Finally, we found a Starbucks (sad but true), where I was only too happy to pay a few quid to get online. Despite their grumbling that we don’t need WiFi, once we had found it, the kids (ages 9 and 11) immediately asked when they would get their turn, because they need to send mail and Facebook their school friends.

I got 20 minutes, and they each got 5 or 10, and then we were back on our way. It was worth lugging the laptop for 8 hours just to get that hour online, and I did it again the next day, despite the sunk cost of connectivity and the anticipated cost of the massage to fix the damage done by dragging the laptop around town.

It’s sad, but true. Even though I didn’t have a lot to do online, there are enough issues that demand caring for at least once a day for me and my kids to consider Internet access to be a basic necessity. I’d say that on weekdays, twice a day is the basic minimum. On weekends I can get away without. I do start feeling a bit dizzy after more than 36 or so hours, though.

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