Monday, September 24, 2012

A Simpler Time

What do you do when you can't pick up the phone and call someone? Or fire up your computer and message someone, check something, research something, access something? This sounds like a deeply hypothetical, 'is technology your master' kind of writing springboard, but this week, it was our reality. We woke up Thursday morning ready to re-set our digital clocks after a power outage the night before, and start what looked to be a beautiful Indian summer day. I went to turn on our Internet radio, but it was down. Oh well. Then we noticed other sites weren't working, and we weren't able to dial the telecommunications company. We carried on with our morning and pieced together the scenario: we were without Internet access, everyone else in the Yukon was too. Our phone was out, and everyone else's were too, cell phones and land lines included.
Immediately, this wasn't a big deal. It meant I missed a morning walk with a friend because we couldn't communicate to organize it. We couldn't call friends to chat, or send Facebook messages to family. Then, my mind began to wander. What if something happened? Like, something bad? Could we call 9-1-1-? Could anyone? What if one of us was hurt or sick, would the hospital be able to treat us? The what-ifs started bothering everyone.
We plugged in my clock radio and listened to the CBC for updates and explanations. I left my list of 'what ifs' floating in the air and went about my day. That afternoon, we sat out front on the lawn and chatted with neighbours. We usually do this, but it struck me as quaint that today, this was our only means of communicating: face-to-face.
It all lasted about 12 hours, and things quickly went back to normal. Thankfully, no major injuries or disasters were reported in the media, but everyone was asking the same question: 'what if?' It has left our politicians and big business leaders evaluating the inherent problems of one company having a telecommunications monopoly over the North, and our emergency services workers to set plans in place for total communication blackouts.
On the other hand, last Thursday, we enjoyed a brief foray into a simpler time, where you paid cash for goods, where you listened to the AM radio for information, and shared laughs and stories with the people who were in front of you.

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