I Need the Damn Internet
So, I’ll say it. I need the internet. For most, this will not seem surprising or even a statement worth making. I’m a millennial after all, which means that I am supposed to be addicted to all things digital. But for me, that really couldn’t be farther from the truth. To quote Erykah Badu, I’m an analog girl in a digital world.
The fact of the matter is that I am an also an older millennial which means that I remember a world before the ubiquity of the internet. I am also someone who did not have a lot of resources growing up. So, while my peers were getting their first email addresses and going on chatrooms, I was still finding entertainment in books and cartoons.
As a result, in many ways, I am a bad millennial. I still don’t know how to take a decent selfie and I am always behind in learning about the newest platforms and trends. Moreover, unlike many creatives working in similar fields, I haven’t spent over a decade “playing on the internet.” This means that I had time to amass the decent let alone huge numbers of followers on social media. As it stands now, I have less than 40 followers on Twitter, hover at just under 400 on Instagram and have less than half of that number in Facebook friends.
Truth be told, at my core, I don’t really care. I’m an old soul whose ideal life would be living in an Earthship in the middle of nowhere. I’d make my own clothes and baskets out of grass and cotton. And when I found the time, I’d make my own my own paper to write poetry and other wordy things on. Honestly, I do not need the internet to be happy. But right now, I need it to survive. I make my livelihood from the internet. So, a lack of availability may lead to an inability to eat in the near future.
This has become increasingly apparent to me here in Portugal. While I have loved living in Lisbon for the past three months, I have struggled with internet access in nearly every place I’ve lived. In the first place, I routinely dealt with an unstable network. In the second, the internet just suddenly stopped working. The last place didn’t have it installed until a few days after I had moved in. But a few days ago, it just stopped working. Since I give one-on-one English classes via the internet, it is hard to understate how disastrous this has been for me economically.
In an odd twist of fate, near my first Airbnb, there were a number of cafes that I could escape to when necessary. Even when I left that place and moved across town, I found myself fleeing there when the internet in the new place was on the fritz. Yet again, I am forced to do the same thing and it is beginning to add up.
I haven’t had too many problems in the cafes that I frequent, however, long hauls in these places also lead to more money complications. While the truth of the matter is that I could sit there all day after ordering a simple coffee, after a few hours, hunger starts to set in. And it is then that I begin to negotiate with myself about whether or not I can afford to buy food.
If the answer is no, that means that I have to return home. I can eat for free, but I won’t be able to continue working for that day unless I go out and buy more things. But buying lunch may mean that I may not have the money I need to survive later on down the line.
Luckily for me, my landlord has been gracious enough to allow me to use the internet in her apartment. Unfortunately for me, this apartment is located all the way across town. So, while I can bring my own food or even coffee, I still have to pay for the metro ride to and from her place.
To give myself credit, I’ve been trying to make the best of it. My productivity levels have been through the roof. I’ve written or started so many blogs and articles. Without the internet to waste my time, I have no excuse but to write. But it is difficult to do research, or more importantly, apply for new work.
Here in Portugal, I’ve been taking an online introduction course into freelance writing. I am nearing the end of the course and have reached the most important section—the one about pitching work. The problem is that without the internet, I can’t actually do that. Which of course means that I cannot earn more money.
To add insult to injury with all of this, the internet was supposed to be fixed by now. As I am writing this, it is Saturday night and the internet stopped working sometime on Wednesday. My landlady called and was told by Vodafone that the problem would be fixed within 24-48. I was cautiously optimistic, that it would be fixed by Friday because I knew Iberian culture well enough to know that no one was coming out on a Saturday.
But of course, 48 hours have come and gone, and I am sitting here in the dark ages. This also means that I will have to go to my Landlady’s apartment yet again on Monday morning because I have a class that begins at 8 am. It is mind-blowingly frustrating and reinforces the idea that, I need the damn internet!