Sorry Shakespeare, I didn’t mean to twist your Hamlet line (To be or not to be). But I am more likely to get into trouble with Hemingway for manipulating his book title: To Have and Have Not. But mine is different. Of course its different. I am not talking about choosing between life and death, or being rich or poor. I am talking about Wi-Fi.
Raise your hands: “How many of you can live without Wi-Fi?”
Let me rephrase it: “How about for just a week? Lets say you are on a cruise, on open seas of the Atlantic. Can you dispense with Wi-Fi for a week?
I was faced with that dilemma. My husband and I were on an ocean cruise with two other couples. The cruiseliner made us an offer we all refused. Wi-Fi for $10 a day. Take it now or for the next 10 days, hold your peace. $100 just for Wi-Fi! The 6 of us looked at one another: Our children, our grandchildren, what will we do without Wi-Fi? As the concierge dangled the ‘take it or leave it package,’ we all nodded in unison. Leave it. In retrospect, one of us could have got it and shared the cost. What is 100 divided by 3 couples? No need to pull out your phone and do the math. Its $36.
The first day was the hardest. Each time we tried to contact one another by text, as in ‘where on the ship are you?’ No Wi-Fi.
‘Shall we meet for dinner at 7?’ No Wi-Fi.
Walking on the sunny deck, one friend asked, ‘I wonder what the weather is like in New York?’
“Let me check”, I said as I whipped out my phone. No Wi-Fi.
Take a picture and send it to your son. No Wi-Fi.
“I wonder how my daughter’s job interview went?” No Wi-Fi.
We were going through withdrawal.
“Remember, people survived before we had cell phones.”
Did we put away our phones? Of course not. The camera still worked.
It was the longest day at sea. But by the next morning, we had graduated from ‘we-brought-this-onto-ourselves’ mode, into a stress-free hands-off way of being.
Then a surprise. As soon as the ship pulled into Jamaica, my phone dinged and donged and messages started popping up.
“T-Mobile has free data access overseas”, my husband explained.
“Hurry quick. Let everyone know we are alive.”
None of the other two couples had T-Mobile, so I texted their children: “We are in Jamaica. Your mom and Dad say hello.”
“Tell mom to text me. I can’t get through to her,” her son texted me.
“She can’t. She doesn’t have Wi-Fi.”
“Please tell her that next time, they are not traveling without Wi-Fi. I have been going crazy waiting to hear from them. How could they do this to me!”
As we pulled out of port, I texted all three families: “Leaving Jamaica. Will connect in two days when we reach Columbia.”
Actually, not constantly reaching out for the phone was rather liberating. No worries about carrying it on you, safeguarding it, charging it… We filled up otherwise-screen-time, taking in the sights of the ocean, people watching, participating in quiz shows, dancing lessons, and actually talked with one another eye-ball to eye-ball.
Hindsight is indeed 20/20. On my next travel to wherever, I am opting out of Wi-Fi. To have or have not? Sometimes, it is better not to have.