No Internet Access is a Pain in the Derriere in Addition to Being a Human Rights Issue

I'm always amazed how dependent we are on our Internet connection, and it's never brought home more than when my connection at home is out, as it seems to happen about once every 18 months. I had a notice on my door two days ago that my phone company was going to be upgrading equipment in my neighborhood, which was also obvious by the spray painted instructions on the street next to my driveway.

I called the phone number on the flyer, and talked to the tech who answered, telling him that I worked at home and really needed to not lose my connection when he was tearing up the street and installing whatever he was installing, and was absolutely assured that my service would not be interrupted.

So of course today I'm on the phone with a colleague, getting ready to select images together for a video we're working on, and boom! No phone, no Internet. I call the tech (smart to save his number, lol), and ask him if he's working on my street. No, he says, not him. (I suspect he was down about 4 blocks at the big box which is where the problem always is). And then I had to dig up the old printed phone book to find a number to call for phone service, because I have no Internet to look up the number. After going through menu after menu, after menu, online tests, waiting on hold, I was informed that yes, I do have a technical problem, and the technician can be out to my house as soon as tomorrow at 8 am. The window of course is 8 am to 7 pm. Really? An 11 hour window? Well, I never did talk to a human, but my automated response experience was lengthy, but satisfactory.

So now I'm on my second visit to Starbucks today (thank you Starbucks for free wifi!), until my battery runs out again (I made it 2.5 hours earlier today).

But in addition to not being able to work — no email, no Internet access, no social media, no collaboration, no calendar to figure out who I'm supposed to be on the phone with when, but really just no anything, I realized I also can't easily transfer money between my accounts, look up a doctor to see if he's on my insurance, pay my daughter's remaining camp deposit, or post on my Team in Training blog. I have a smartphone, but you know, I'm seriously not even considering doing all of this stuff on it because — 1) all of my bookmarks are on my computer and 2) it is slow!!!! Reminds me of the bad old days of dial up.

 Because I work in accessibility I'm well aware of the United Nations report released earlier this month that declares Internet access is a human right. The first few paragraphs of the article in the link state:

A United Nations report released Friday declares Internet access a human right. Presented to the General Assembly, the report by UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue states that, "the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom and expression."

As LaRue highlighted, Internet access can be particularly valuable during times of political unrest, as evidenced in the Arab Spring uprisings. LaRue emphasized the power of the Internet as a communication medium and said in his report that, "given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.
 And of course, you think, yes, that's right, it is! And not just for all of the amazing things you can do with social media channels and the Internet: expressing your human rights, overthrowing corrupt governments, saving lives in Japan, and connecting with your friends and colleagues all over the world, but darn it, every day mundane things like Internet banking, looking up phone numbers, making online purchases (thank goodness I purchased my case of Gu endurance sports nutrition last night before I went to bed), reading the news, and a multitude of other things. It's amazing how much of our lives has moved online.

When did Internet access become so ubiquitous that it's now a human rights issue? I think I blinked and missed it. :-)