Have you ever found yourself staring down at your phone, mentally straining as you telepathically will the connectivity bars to light up â€“ signaling a genuine working connection? I usually find myself muttering sarcastically, â€œIf only I lived in a place ubiquitous with technology and connectivity!â€
You may think such a concept synonymous with the Silicon Valley.
You would be wrong.
More often then not itâ€™s less bars in more places (to autocorrect AT&Ts former slogan).
But then I go home.
I grew up in Southern California, deep in a canyon community between the San Fernando Valley hills. Privacy is delightful; even more so, Iâ€™m sure, in 1978, when no one found themselves huddled next to the guest toilet because there may be possibility one dot of cell service intermittently transmitted through.
Come with me, this Halloween week, and join me on a terrifying trip to the most horrifying of haunts a TechMom could find herselfâ€¦
The car hummed along across the miles. To the girl in car, the miles seemed endless. The vibrations lulled her into a trance. When her eyes opened again, the car was rumbling into a canyon. Sparse streetlights cast flickering shadows over a two-land road headed toward the final short bar of cell service.
At the end of a narrow alleyway, a large house looked over the hill. The woman standing silently on the porch looked back at the girl with her own eyes, as though she was looking through a mirror from 30 years past.
The girl looked down at her phone. â€œNo Serviceâ€ glared up from the backlit screen.
â€œThereâ€™s no cell service here,â€ the woman informed the girl matter-of-factly. â€œNeighbors wonâ€™t allow a tower in the canyon.â€
The girl would have to use the phone line get online. The girl took a deep breath. The phone line to get online couldnâ€™t be that bad. Everyone carried their own phone, and no one really wants to speak anyway â€“ right?
â€œThereâ€™s a phone in the kitchen,â€ the woman pointed.
A beige push-button contraption sat upon a small table next to a butcher block. A corded telephone â€“ connected from handset to base with enough coils to strangle a mere mortal after only a couple switches of the weighty earpiece.
The girl gulped; she just wanted to get online.
With words that stole the last bit of warmth from the girlâ€™s blood, the woman said, â€œWe have a dial-up modem.â€
Chills stabbed through the girlâ€™s body as she fought to keep her composure.
Abruptly, a high-pitch noise screeched out, breaking the black nightâ€™s silence, its moans and groans dipping and dropping inÂ decibel as the ghosts ofÂ technologies long since dead cried out in to the connectivity-barren canyon. The modem desperately tried to reach its destination number as it squeaked and pulsed through the tiny pipes with minimal bandwidth.
But the nightmare was just beginning.
â€œSorry, there is no such thing as WiFi.â€ The words were muffled by the blood pounding through girlâ€™s head.
The girl clutched the disconnected smartphone in her pocket. She could feel her bravery draining away like the battery life of the phone as it searched for a network. How would she communicate? How would she share stories and anecdotes?!
An icy smile crossed the womanâ€™s face. â€œTo celebrate the dead, you must interact with other humans face to face. After all, all live humans crave physical interaction.â€
Trembling, the girl realized sheâ€™d found herself in a world that demanded actual eye contact.
She was offline.