Oh, How We Suffer…

by Deb Richmond

I sometimes get impatient with the younger generation. They fall apart at the smallest crisis. I try to remind them how life used to be – how people struggled for daily survival – how being inconvenienced to put away personal items would not have been seen as a cause for stress compared to starvation, polio, and battling Nazis. My reminders do not help.


We’ve had a rough couple of months at our house. Every time it would rain or snow, our internet stopped working, then eventually gave out altogether. Our provider promised to send a technician to look into the problem 21 days after we lost internet. We were without connection for 15 of the 30 days over the past two months. 


This created difficulties in many areas. 


1) As you noticed, I could not send out a newsletter or update my author’s webpage. This is how I make connections and build relationships with people who can relate to my stories. 

2) I couldn’t check the weather to decide what to wear for the day.

3) One member of our family relies heavily on the internet for mental health support (mainly talking to other teenagers…)

4) I couldn’t grade papers or plan my lessons from home and had to stay late at school.

5) I couldn’t pay bills or transfer funds when needed.

6) We couldn’t order from Amazon all those random things we can’t go another day without.

7) Our family paid for internet movie and karaoke services that we couldn’t use, leaving us to watch only what we owned on DVDs.

8) We couldn’t update or install apps for our new Christmas devices. 

9) We couldn’t look up information as questions about history, literature, and recipe measurements arose.

10) We couldn’t follow the news.

11) I couldn’t see all those FaceBook cute little kid photos.

12) I couldn’t say “Happy Birthday!” To my Facebook friends and family.

13) I couldn’t keep up with my emails.


Not having access to the internet created a lot of stress. As Yente from “Fiddler on the Roof” says, “Oh, how we suffer. We suffer in silence.” Except, in this situation, I don’t think I was silent.


I began to think about how things were in years past. When did I become so dependent on something so unreliable? I realized my grandparents would have laughed at my irrational stresses over facing minor inconveniences. Somehow, I managed to survive 30 years ago without the internet. How did I do that? I need to make a replacement list:


1) Invite people over for dinner and a long conversation. 

2) Open the front door in the morning.

3) Invite teenagers over for dinner and conversation!

4) Give all the students an A and forget about grading papers. 

5) Go to the bank; buy postage stamps.

6) Learn to do without random things.

7) Read a book.

8) Read another book or play board games.

9) Open an encyclopedia. I still have a 1971 set of A-Z volumes on my bookshelves. Every now and then, I still use them.

10) Be grateful to be in the dark about what’s going on in the world.

11) Visit the grandkids more often.

12) Send greeting cards…and buy more postage stamps.

13) Write another book.


The next time a member of the younger generation complains, I’m going to smile with all the empathy I can muster. Then I’m going to go pick up a book and start reading. But if you happen to get a card from me in the mail, you know we’ve lost internet again.


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