The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 21, 2013

Mike Pound: Paying the price for Internet withdrawal

By Mike Pound
news@joplinglobe.com

— So what’s going on?

Seriously, what’s going on? I’m sort of on vacation as I write this, and I have no idea what’s going on. There is no Internet access where I am at this moment, and I’m out of whatever it is that allows me to access the Internet with my cellphone.

I don’t know what it is I’m out of on my cellphone, but I got a message from whoever is in charge of my cellphone that said I was running out of whatever it is I’m running out of.

According to my wife, if I access the Internet when I’m out of whatever it is I’m out of, it will cost me a lot of money.

“Don’t our cellphones already cost us a lot of money?” I asked.

“Yes,” my wife said.

“Then how come they want to charge us even more money?” I asked.

“Because,” my wife said.

“I see,” I said.

And, for one of the few times in the many years that I have been married, I actually did see when my wife said “because.”

The people who sell information services like cellphones and Internet stuff — by the way, “Internet stuff” is a phrase first developed by engineers at MIT — sell you Internet access for your computer. Then they suggest you tie your Internet access to your phone or cable TV service. Then they say, “You know, I’ve got a guy downtown who can hook you up with a phone that is hooked up to the Internet. Here, try it. The first one’s free.”

The next thing you know, your cellphone or cable bill looks like the current U.S tax code, but without all the deductions for the rich people. Sure, you try to read all the charges on your bill so you can figure out exactly how much you’re paying for all the great Internet access you’re getting. But in the end, you realize that you don’t have time to read the bill, what with all the things on the Internet you need to read, so you just give up and pay whatever number is on the bottom of the page. The number could be $1,987,765.54 and you would still pay it. And then everything is fine.

Until you get a message from whoever controls your cellphone that says that if you continue to access the Internet, it will cost you more. When that happens, you decide you’ve had enough. When that happens, you decide to take a stand.

“Curse you, Internet!” you shout. Then, because you’re in a Winn-Dixie store in St. Augustine, Fla., at the time, you say, “Sorry, I was talking to the Internet” to all of the people staring at you, and then you quickly pay for your beer and run back to your rental car so you can continue yelling at the Internet.

“I’ve had enough!” you shout. “I don’t need you anymore!” And then you go cold turkey or, since you’re in Florida, cold lobster, which now that I think of it, sounds much better than cold turkey.

Anyway, you decide to go without the Internet while you’re on vacation. At first, going without the Internet is easy. But that’s probably because you’re on vacation and there are other things to do. After a few days, you start to get this strange, nagging feeling that there are things going on that you are missing. Not important things, because you’ve been missing important things for years. Nope, the things you are missing are exhibition baseball scores, NCAA basketball news, jokes about our Congress creatures, St. Louis Cardinals information and barbecue recipes.

But you fight on. You ignore the strange, nagging feeling, and you proceed with your vacation. And if you need to access the Internet to send a column back to your editor, you find one of those coffee shops that sells coffee in Latin. You use their Internet access, send your column, shut off your computer and leave.

Sure, it’s tough, but that’s what happens when you go cold lobster.



DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.