A lot has changed in the 30 years since then. Now, nearly one million phone lines are being disconnected every month, a statistic provided in a May 2010 online piece by Bob Adelmann, “The Breakup of Ma Bell” in The New American. Now, Adelmann says, the internet connects a quarter of the world’s population. Now, AT&T’s Bottom Line requires it to care.
And, oh, it does.
In three days, the phone company will send a worker to my house install a faster modem. I hadn’t intended to make a change; I detest having to adjust to new technology. I waited five years longer than I should have to buy a new computer because I didn’t want to have to move my files or adjust to a new system. (Go ahead, roll your eyes, you won’t be the first. And since you’re already tut-tutting, you might as well know that I still don’t own a cell phone either. Originally, it was because of the expense. Then it was because I liked knowing that if I was out and about, I was invisible since nobody could get hold of me for any reason. And now? Reasons One and Two still apply.)
Initially, I was forced to call AT&T about an email issue where a file of digitized historic photos was stuck in a Cloud fart so it duplicated itself every time I logged on. If I didn’t call, pretty soon I’d be getting scores of downloads of the same email, which would be scores-plus-one more historic photos than I’d needed in the first place.
So I bit the bullet and dialed. “Ken” was helpful, even though I couldn’t answer my Security Question because the 1960s TV kick I’d been on at the time I recorded my Security answer had long since passed, and I had no clue what answer I’d provided. (Ken, if you’re reading this, I thought of my Security answer half a day later.) Not only did Ken resolve my problem, but he also passed me over to Stephanie, who looked at my record and noted in a revolted tone—can a voice roll its eyes?--that I currently had one of their slowest internet plans: I could download less than one megabyte per second. Oh, the horror!
The fact is, a slow download time HAS been horrible. I research as I write, so when I’m on a Roll and I have to look up something, by the time I type my query in a search box and wait for the hits to line up, I’ve semi-forgotten why I needed to know whatever it was. My Roll nose-dives into the ditch.
Which is why I’m looking forward to Tuesday, when my download time will rev up to three megabytes per second. The switch will require my commitment to a phone plan that limits me to 200 minutes a month (Is that a lot or a little? I have no idea how many minutes I spend per month on the phone, but since I’d rather gnaw on a hangnail than talk on the phone, I suspect 200 minutes will be plenty.)
The point is, my choosing to byte the bullet and embrace change means fewer Rolls nose-diving, greater productivity, and a lower phone bill. I hope. What’s your experience with communications technology?