The screen sat blank. I sat blanker.
It felt like a game of anti-chicken and I wasn’t sure which one of us would come to life first. The screen still sat blank, so eventually I stood and walked over to the modem, which was blinking with a red light. This was a problem.
Hell, even the cable runs through the internet these days (thanks, Comcast!). So, as I’d do in any emergency, I grabbed my modern-day security blanket—my phone. Of course, it was already deep into low-battery mode (thanks, Apple!), so that wasn’t an option either.
Is this why some people still get newspapers?
I searched the house, desperate for a screen, and settled back on the couch in front of the brightest one I could find. I put my nose to the glass and stared out the window, to the outside world—AKA the internet, version 1.0.
I didn’t have any volume turned on because the window was closed, but the conversation grew more and more demonstrative, until the two men were clearly yelling at each other. It was like a real-life Twitter! Sure, I was missing all the choicest words and hashtags, but I pretty much got the gist. Besides, who follows all the details in a Twitter fight?
A few minutes later, I saw a squirrel. I’ve seen thousands of squirrels in my life (humblebrag), but this one climbed the small tree nearby and was really testing how far it could go on a narrow, wispy branch. It bounced like a Pharrell beat, and so in my mind I synced them up perfectly. Now I was out here leveling up and TikToking real life!
By the time my attention span was running out for the squirrel, he leaped to another tree and scurried away, likely because two dog walkers passed, their dogs sniffing way up into each other’s privates. You don’t get less socially distanced than that. The two VERY GOOD BOYS circled and circled each other, spinning their leashes into a tangled mess and forcing their owners to let go and recatch it. Was it a cat leaping from a radiator to a bed but falling jussst a bit short? No. No animal video could match that. But it wasn’t half bad. And would have made for an outstanding boomerang.
I ran to another room and opened up three browser windows by plopping myself into a bay window. From here I could triple my #content intake.
There was a lady carrying a canvas tote full of unknown goods. She had probably been to the real life version of Amazon—a store—to pick up a few things she needed and probably a few things they targeted to her.
A car tried to parallel park and restarted a full three times, each time almost getting sideswiped by passing traffic; Reddit’s Epic Failure forum, come to life!
A lady with an iced coffee stopped to read flyers posted on the traffic light, warning of a missing bike and help wanted sign, before checking out a box of “free” junk. It was just like when I hate-binge NextDoor. Somewhere, someone was probably wondering if she was the thief and if she was also responsible for some missing Peapod deliveries.
A guy in a MAGA shirt walked by, and I resisted telling him—despite all my frustrations—that he was a moron, just like his president, a comment I’d left on countless Facebook conversations.
I sat there for hours, amazed by how great the outside world was, and how much it reminded me of the internet! As evening came, the sun shone through a tall oak and gave me all the feels of the X-Pro II Instagram filter. It was the famed golden hour I’d heard so much about. Sitting in the moment, and appreciating the simplicity was a new kind of high. I basked in my quiet, notification-free, data-untrackable bliss. I knew the internet would come back eventually, but there was no rush.