Friday, December 18, 2015

Living Without Internet

I haven't had internet at home for two years.

It started when I moved to Spain. Before that, I'd always had internet in Canada. I couldn't imagine being without it. Even at work, I was always online. When I didn't have plans to go out, I didn't mind because I could stay home and entertain myself with my computer.

Then I moved to Villacarrillo. With my limited Spanish, it was difficult as hell reading the contracts and stipulations on internet company websites. At the only computer store in the village, the clerk said he'd look for a company that wouldn't force me to sign a one-year contract (auxiliary contracts are only worth 8 months of salary). “Te llamo,” he said to me. I thought I'd understood him.

Except I returned to his shop the next day. I obviously had no idea that he said he would call me. “Nooooo, te LLAMO.” he bellowed. Oops. I never did get that internet. The difficulty in signing up for it was too much.

But I learned to live without it. I learned to get a cheap mobile data provider, so I could use Whatsapp and check email on my phone. I used WiFi at my workplaces so that I could Skype.
Stealing my friend's internet
A Canadian friend, who taught English for years in Korea and Turkey, told me she purposely didn't get internet because it forced her to go to internet cafes or pilfer WiFi at eating establishments. In essence, it forced her to get out of the house and interact with society. I agree that not having internet makes you integrate with your community. Unfortunately, this year the internet access at my workplaces isn't great. However, when planning lessons it forces me to be creative and rely on more “organic” activities, rather than Youtube videos or fancy presentations. Recently I walked into a 5th grade class without any planning whatsoever. I suddenly remembered a question and answer game I'd read about, and explained the rules to the kids on the spot. They ended up loving it so much that they've played it over and over again. I'm glad they love a game where everyone is obligated to speak and practice their English.

I'm sure in the future I'll sign up for home internet. Hopefully by then, I'll feel the lull of the outside world calling me, shut down my computer each afternoon, and step out into the community.

Have you ever dreamt of not having internet at home? Would you try it? Share you thoughts below.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Facebook Cleanse

When you travel, or move, it's normal for relationships to wither and die. Without regular in-person contact, the will to hold on to the connection gets weak. In light of this, applications such as Facebook seem to have a way of artificially keeping a dying relationship alive. Is the tether between two people, based on electronic communication, of the same quality as regular face-to-face contact?

The first time I came to Spain, I made great, great friends at Sunseed. Back then, I wasn't on Facebook, so I tried to email once in a while. After a couple of exchanges, we let it go. I hold on to wonderful memories, and I have pictures that make me smile everytime I look at them.

Then I signed up for Facebook. As I made friends along the way, I added some to my account. I have moved a lot over the past few years, and some people have moved in and out of my life. Every few months, I “cleanse” my list of friends. I sometimes delete people I'm 99% sure I'll never see again, because I don't see any point in viewing snapshots of their lives. I don't have a need to know what's happening with them. We shared a part of our lives with each other, and now we've gone on separate paths. In my opinion, it's artificial to hold on to an electronic connection with someone and claim them as your “friend”, without ever seeing them in person. Even though years go by between visits to Canada, I still maintain my connection with my Canadian friends because I know I'll see them again in person.
See you soon!
I've had a few negative comments from people I've dropped from my account. Yet I haven't seen these people in person for an extremely long time, and I doubt I'll ever see them again. Perhaps one day, if we do bump into each other, we'll rekindle the friendship. But it'll have to be over coffee, and not over the internet.

Do you agree with this blog post? Or do you think I'm a cold-hearted *****? Share your comments below!