Unlike the memories my children will ever have, I do remember a time without the Internet. I remember it as being neither good, nor bad; just different.
A time when a research paper or unanswered (and plaguing) question had to be started in the hallowed halls of the public library. Few feelings compared with that frustration of making your way down the alphabetized spines of the encyclopedia collection only to find the singular volume you "had to have" was missing. I remember walking around the tables in the library, hoping against all hope that perhaps some other patron had ignored the "One Volume At A Workstation At A Time, Please" mandate, and had horded the one I sought. Of course sometimes the volume was simply "Missing", a designation that always perplexed me, seeing that research books weren't available to be checked out. (What kind of a person steals a stupid encyclopedia, anyway?)
Then there were the occasions when you'd finally gotten the volume you needed, (whether by hook or crook), found the page indicated in the index, and turned to it only to find the page or part of the page was missing. (Wasn't that just a kick in the pants?)
I don't necessarily miss those pre-Internet days, mind you. But I remember them.
The other night a lightening strike, a little too close for comfort, blasted our family back to circa-1980's, knocking our address of the world wide web.(Gasp!) No Internet at our house means no television, other than DVDs and any pre-recorded shows. It means no weather updates. No telephone (except for cell service). It means no social networking sites. (NOOOOOOOOOO!)
In the first few moments when The Television Went Blank, we stared at each other in awe. Where did it go? It was here; now it is not. What happened? I tried my laptop, but nothing happened. Where the signal strength indicator bars once gleamed in fullness, there was only a sad exclamation mark in a yellow triangle....along with the despised message: "No Internet Access".
The children bounded off to watch a DVD upstairs now that we were back to, what they consider, "The Olden Days", and spent a happy hour enjoying the novelty of a movie that had been trapped on a shiny disk.
My husband and I used the time to catch up on books we've been neglecting, and whose due dates were fast approaching. We, the perfect picture of domestic bliss; Ma & Pa huddled around the glow of the electric lamp, cozied up to our glowing devices, reading.
The situation has since worked itself out. We're back online again and surfing the Internet at our usual intrepid speeds. But our forced re-visitation to the days of yore was a practical reminder of just exactly how far we've come, for the better and (just maybe) a bit for the worse.
And how mightily we are dependent upon something that was, not that long ago, an imaginative piece of science fiction.