I’ve got so used to having free wi-fi available that it comes as a surprise when I have to do without it. I found myself on a Virgin Train today, wanting to connect to their service on my MacBook. First Class travellers get complimentary wi-fi, but the rest of us mere mortals have to pay. I wasn’t willing to shell out £4 for an hour or £6 for 3 hours, so I turned to atutorial on tethering my Android phone to the laptop.
After 20 minutes of effort with some mis-steps, I got to the point of connecting, only to get a “connection timeout” message. Tried again… and again… nothing. I didn’t know if this was down to the vagaries of Macs not playing nice with Android devices or whether the 4G signal didn’t stretch round hills. (I suspect the latter.) So I went back to my low-tech magazines and tried to chill out for the rest of the journey.
When did I become so dependent on being always connected? For most of my life there’s been no such thing, and yet I managed perfectly well without it. What do I need to be connected for? Obviously for work. To check on email, websites, social media, Google Drive, Skype and Dropbox to name but a few. To watch videos, read ebooks, download files, look up bus times, keep track of appointments and find unfamiliar places. These activities have all become part of my everyday life, and I can’t imagine spending days on end not doing these things. Not unless I get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Seychelles. And even then… 🙂
The availability of wi-fi has become all-pervasive. We expect to get free wi-fi in so many places – cafes, bars, coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, libraries, bookshops, shopping centres and many more. It’s now commonplace in my home city to have free wi-fi on buses and trams, so even when we’re on the move, we can be linked to the Internet. Even Mount Everest and the North Pole have free wi-fi, believe it or not.
We like free stuff, so we use it, and get annoyed when it doesn’t work. Because it’s just meant to be there.
I just Googled, and Virgin Trains have apparently caught on to this need, as they’ve announced there will be superfast wi-fi for everyone coming soon on their trains. Just not yet.
And for the record… yes, I’m sitting typing this using free wi-fi. See, I told you I can’t live without it!