When slow Internet happens to fast people

Entrepreneur goes where life is slow and the Internet is slower

By Sheryl Rowling

Nov 21, 2014 @ 1:27 pm EST

We're spoiled. Our high-speed Internet gives us instant access to information and allows us to communicate with anyone, anywhere. Yet if pulling up Google takes more than 10 seconds, we get frustrated.

So it's not just the Internet that we value so much. It's the high speed connection that sealed the deal. Clearly, the web would be less widely used if we had to rely on dial-up. (Yes, I am that old — I remember!). Now, in the post dial-up world, email and the web are not just part of our daily lives, they seem to be indispensable.

I've been thinking about how high speed has made such an impact. You see, I just went on a long cruise across the Atlantic. The only Internet connection available on a cruise ship is through satellite. On the ship, this translated to unreliable, expensive and extremely slow service — kind of like high priced dial-up!

Prior to leaving on my trip, I shut off my work emails (diverted to trusted employees), determined to truly enjoy my vacation. If anything needed my attention, employees were instructed to use my personal email. My intent was to check email only twice a day.

Well, the best laid plans ... It took at least five minutes to just get to my mailbox. Then, downloading only one message was, again, a five minute wait. To send an email — you guessed it — another five minutes! And all of this was assuming that I wasn't disconnected at any time during the process. At the "discounted" rate of 30 cents per minute, my husband and I spent $600 over 17 days for this frustration. Did this mean we were overly attached to our emails? I'd say no.

For me, checking in twice a day meant approximately five minutes each time to log on, another five minutes getting kicked out, five minutes each time to access my mailbox, five minutes per each email downloaded and five minutes each to respond. If I downloaded and responded to only six emails per day, that would total 85 minutes — or over $430 in Internet charges for the duration of the cruise.

I think this type of connection would have been acceptable in the age of dial-up. It just doesn't work with today's expectations of instant communications. Back on land, I am now thankful for my Internet speed. And I plan to not get as frustrated when it occasionally slows down a bit.

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a nontechie user of technology.

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