Friday, September 26, 2014

The importance of being connected



French Village Diaries internet social media
The importance of being connected
This summer marked our tenth anniversary of living in France and in that time many things have changed. When we arrived, one of the first tasks was to reconnect the telephone line and sign up to a basic dial up Internet service, mainly so we could check emails. Neither of our mobile phones (and back then they were just phones) had a service in the village, so for the first few days we were very cut off from the rest of the world and especially our family we had left behind. Thankfully we didn’t have to struggle with dial up for too long as within a few years broadband arrived in the village, partly due to us running a business here that required the Internet. It is painfully slow broadband at times, but better than dial up and as we are now a family with three mobile phones, three laptops and three iPads the Internet is important and it's very frustrating when it drops the connection. The mobile phone signal still isn’t great and although I survived the first few years without one and still don't have 3G, I couldn't imagine not having one. Now Ed is of an age when he is seeking independence, having a mobile with 3G means we let him go but are able track him when he is out on his bike with his friends. How different to when I was a teen of the Eighties and going out meant real freedom!

To celebrate our tenth anniversary we spent five days in Normandy this summer with Ade’s parents, and like stepping back in time we found ourselves in a rural gite with (shock) no Internet. Out of the five of us I am undoubtedly the one with the biggest online/social media presence and yet I was the only one who remained Internet free for the five whole days. Ed had been in the UK for a month so was delighted to hook back up on his 3G and contact his friends again. Ade managed to pick up his emails whenever he found an Orange Hotspot and my tech’d up in-laws chose to pay for the overseas 3G to stay connected. I missed it, but I survived and didn’t even have too many withdrawal symptoms.

This week it is Ed’s turn to be off line. He has been on a school trip for four days of walking, canoeing, camping and enjoying the outdoors with no phones, iPods or any other gadgets. This didn’t seem to bother him before he left, in fact he was more worried about leaving without a book and I wasn’t sure how he’d cope without having access to his musical instruments. However for some it was more difficult and one mother caused quite a scene at school on Tuesday morning, screaming and swearing at the staff when she was told her daughter couldn’t take her phone with her. It really did get quite heated and one naughty word she used produced a collective intake of breath from those listening in. I’ll admit it has been rather strange for me being at home without Ed and having no updates, but I’m sure he’s having a great time. Last week he was rather poorly so I’m really pleased he was well enough to be able to go and thankful that I haven’t had a phone call from the staff asking me to collect him.

The Internet is wonderful and has become such a big part of our lives, but I'm pleased I can say it is (just) possible to live without it every day. How many days can you go without the Internet?