Untethering: 10 Days without the Internet

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So, recently, it probably seemed like I vanished off the face of the earth. Well, it turns out I only vanished from the virtual earth because we were without the internet.

No, I didn’t get buried under a mound of moving boxes. We’re alive and well here in the mountains, although we were somewhat disconnected for a while.   This was a huge move – while I thought moving as a prepper was an enormous undertaking, it was nothing compared to moving as a prepper/homesteader. Moving the contents of a barn, chicken coop, and house was a tremendous amount of work, even though we hired a moving company for the majority of the big stuff.

There was a great deal to coordinate on either end, such as getting the new shelters ready for the animals, getting the animals themselves over here, and making sure nothing ate them on their first night here. (We’re up in Bear Country here.) Unfortunately, we had an escapee that was never seen again: my daughter’s beloved cat that she raised from a bottle-fed, abandoned kitten.  He managed to push a screen out of the window and vanished into the forest. While we hope he found a nice home with someone, we know that was probably not his fate.

Our biggest lesson didn’t have anything to do with the shuffling of boxes, though. It came from our disconnection. The first 10 days in our new home were spent without the internet.

We rely on the internet a lot.

  • My daughter’s homeschool curriculum is online.
  • My work is online.
  • We watch movies on Amazon Prime.
  • We listen to music on Amazon, too.
  • I’m a compulsive Googler because I always want to know the answers to my questions immediately.
  • Our phone doesn’t work without an internet connection.
  • Our relatives are pretty far away, so we use the internet to communicate with them.

I honestly had no idea how much we used it until we didn’t have it.

Insert Rant: Customer service is dead.

To ice the cake of our disconnection, I dealt with probably the worst customer service experience of my entire life getting my internet service up and running. I would so much prefer to deal with small businesses, because they actually care and provide real service, but in the case of internet out in the mountains, that wasn’t an option.

We’re talking about days and days on the phone. Literally, entire days, wasted while going from one representative to another, trying to set up a simple DSL service to a home that already had previous DSL service a week before I moved in.

First, I was told it was all working just fine. I plugged in the modem – you know, the one that worked in this very home 4 days previously, and it no longer worked to receive their signal. They wanted to send me a new modem at my own expense. However, since my cell phone (with the same company) won’t work here without the modem, I got them to agree to send me a new one at their expense.

So, I waited for 2 days for the UPS guy to arrive with my new modem. When he never did, I called back.

“Oh,” said the hapless representative who picked up my call. “Um, I’m sorry to inform you that modem never got sent. I am happy to send you a new one at no charge.”

I narrowly controlled my rage. After all, it wasn’t this guy’s fault.  “The modem was already at no charge. I am working from home and educating a child with an online curriculum. I need you to expedite the delivery of a modem.”

“That’ll be an additional $10.”


“Sorry, ma’am, but expediting is always at the customer’s expense.”


Customer service is dead. The giant corporations that are in control of our options for cell phone service, internet service, utilities, and television know that they are the only game in town, especially in rural areas. I have been gob-smacked at how horrible what passes for service really is.

These representatives who live far away and are ruled by quotas really don’t care that you didn’t get what you were promised. It isn’t their fault, either. When you have no stake in a company, why would you really care about what the customer thinks of you? When you aren’t empowered to make things right, when you have 12 bosses listening to your every word, checking to see if you’re adhering to the rules, you really only care about keeping your job.  When you are in another country, halfway across the world, earning 50 cents an hour providing service to people in the Promised Land of America, you care even less.

We live in a world that is constantly connected – often to our detriment.

So, for 10 days, there I sat, waiting for the elusive package from AT&T that I couldn’t go anywhere local to pick up. Heck, I’d have driven two hours to get us back in action.  I couldn’t even leave the house, since the package required my signature.  Aside from the fact that we had electricity, it made me think about life without internet after some kind of massive disaster.

The upside to this is that my stuff got unpacked in record time. I was incredibly productive with regard to non-work stuff.

Since my work is all internet-based, I was forced into a vacation. (I really, really enjoy researching and writing, so this was less fun than it sounds for me.) The good news is, I was able to get our entire house unpacked and settled, get the livestock moved over into their new locations, and recover from lugging all that stuff with my poor, aching 40-something body.

For the first day or so, my daughter felt like she was camping, and not in a good, vacation-y kind of way. She was unable to chat with friends, look up information at the spur of the moment on Google, and see what everyone else was up to. She couldn’t watch Netflix or even listen to music, since most of her music consisted of playlists on a streaming system.

This really got me thinking about how much many of us rely on the internet. I’m new to the whole farming/homesteading thing, so I frequently turn to the ‘net to answer my many questions.  It’s our main source of entertainment too, since we ditched the cable long ago and switched to Amazon Prime and Netflix. Even many of the things we enjoy reading are online. Our phones don’t work without Wi-Fi out here in the boondocks, so communicating with the outside world required a 10-minute drive up the hill, where we loitered on the side of the road and quickly check our messages, using up our data.

But the problem with all of this connection is that it isn’t actually that good for us. This book considers our relationship to technology an addiction, and asserts that our constant tether  is causing such ills as anxiety, depression, loneliness, attention disorders, and many more concerns. Another good read is this one, which is the journal of a guy who disconnected – his lessons were pretty fascinating. We’ve all seen reports of people walking off cliffs while they’re glued to their phones or seen groups of kids who are supposedly together, yet all isolated, staring at their own devices and ignoring the friend right next to them, breathing the same air.

Going low-tech can be fun

After a week, we got somewhat used to it, although I still welcomed my new modem with open arms and perhaps some champagne.

We dug out the old DVD player and the movies to sit down and have some quiet relaxation time before bed.  We found our old CD collection to get some tunes going during the day. We’ve spent a lot more time talking, playing games, and reading. I’ve cooked some fabulous, time-consuming meals, and my daughter taught herself how to make cheesecake from scratch using one of my cookbooks and the ingredients we have on hand.

I started using books as references again. I made great use of my Encyclopedia of Country Living and my copy of Chickens from Scratch when setting up my hen habitat.

We spent several pleasant hours exploring the woods and the creek behind the house, we bathed and brushed the dogs, and never have I had a more organized closet. I slept better, felt more relaxed, and accomplished a lot of those things I just never found the time for during my “connected” life.

Maybe with all its alluring convenience and entertainment value, the internet is actually not a good thing. Perhaps the reason why Americans are no longer a productive people is because we’re constantly connected to some invisible computer or cellphone tether.

We’re going to take a lesson from this and unplug a lot more often, voluntarily this time.

Well, after I catch up on my emails.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I feel your pain. Charter Communications has no charged me for late fees twice when they received my payment on time. I have not succeeded in getting someone on the line to straighten it out. This has never happened in my life. I believe they are holding the check and then charging a late fee to make more money. Now I pay online. If I could change I would but my only other choice is AT&T. Charter has no problem getting a hold of me to sell more products. They call incessantly. When I tell them I want to talk to someone in customer service to complain, they give me another number. When I call I get switched many times and then disconnected. Unfreaking believable! I hate these companies.

  • !!!!!I know…..I just went through this with customer service that does not speak English as a first language. I ordered a new part for my ninja blender and received a broken (not even refurbished ) part. Sent it back and they wouldn’t refund shipping either way! Anyway. ………clean, organized closets are the best…..congrats!

  • As a retired AT&T employee, here are some new rules for you, when dealing with them.

    1-ALWAYS request someone in the States. If they refuse to transfer you, demand a call back from a supervisor in the States.
    2-If you get no satisfaction from #1, then drive to the nearest AT&T phone store. Yes, it is cellular and cable/satellite, but they also handle internet. Talk to the store manager.
    3-If you get no satisfaction from #2, demand a call from an area supervisor that handles DSL. Then work your way up the food chain. Randall Stephenson is at the top, he is the CEO, in Dallas. Yes, you can make it ugly enough that it will hit one of his direct subordinates. Believe me, someone will do something.
    4-Be firm, be polite, but be relentless. And yes, they treat employees/retirees the same exact way.

    Training costs money, and no company is willing to train their employees anymore. When I did work in the Business Office, we had training drills, education, and more training. Now? The company could not care less. I agree, the modern world has taken all of us hostage to electronic media.
    Good luck in the new place!

    • Those are fantastic tips! I had no idea you could ask for someone from the States. This was great information 🙂 And Dallas is exactly where I finally ended up getting satisfaction. I also found a list of the Board of Directors and then tracked down email addresses through Linked In and let them know what was going on. Relentless is the perfect description 🙂

  • We would miss internet if we lost it too since it is our main source for news both mainline and alternative and keeping track of the family. I would say that a smart phone and internet access is a major factor in “problems” our one grand daughter is dealing with.
    The thing that scares me is the amount of dependence people are putting on internet to replace books. A couple weeks ago I tried two major furniture stores trying to find sturdy wood book cases to replace some cheep ones that are failing. I was told that they are no longer ordering bookcases because no one is buying books! We do some of our reading on the nook format but at least you have most of your books down loaded. All of our reference books are print and we probably have a few thousand entertainment books on the shelf. One EMP…
    The library in the closest large town (4000 people) replaced half of their book stacks with computer terminals. This sounds like the perfect way to begin revising history. (Like those who are now trying to deny that the concentration camps happened.) It is hard enough for us older people to check info on the web if it doesn’t sound right but the younger generation probably won’t even think to check.
    Talking about bad customer service try and get someone from the Social Security office to call you back to clarify the facts when two government web sites give completely conflicting information.

    • YES!!!! I’ve thought the same thing about replacing books with computers. Talk about controlling information, right? As much as I love having access to the internet, I love real books more. I very rarely read e-books and when purchasing always go for the hard copy. Curling up with the tablet or laptop just doesn’t compare to curling up with a good book!

  • Sandra’s 2nd point is excellent. Our phone/ISP company is CenturyLink, and they still have good customer service. When my DSL modem died one morning a few years ago, the tech support lady contacted the CL store ~10 miles away, and I had a new modem that afternoon.

    You should also consider a backup Internet source. I have a Verizon “jet pack” that uses cell phone signals to get online. Monthly cost: $50 for 5 GB. Not enough to do video streaming, but plenty for your other needs. It has come in handy at hotels where the wi-fi signal was so weak as to be useless.

    Instead of Google, do your searching on StartPage(dot)com. It is a 100% private gateway to Google that does not record searches, IP addresses or anything else.

    Please accept my condolences on the loss of your cat.

    • Dave,I had fantastic service with my jetpack too. Now I do everything with my smartphone…..banking, shopping etc….

  • Just a quick heads up, if you are now living in the mountains it is very likely your bandwidth is now limited on a monthly basis. A streaming tv show (say half and hour long) from Amazon Prime uses about 1/3rd of a gig. It’s something to be aware of if you are on a 25 gig/month plan. At least where I live, every single gig above that 25 gig limit is an additional 10 dollars. Fortunately we get free time from Midnight to 5 a.m. so we can cue somethings to download in the dead of the night and then use them in the day (not Amazon movies unfortunately, because those just stream). I don’t what kind of plan you are on, but if it is a limited bandwidth one it can be a bit jarring to switch to after living in the city.

    Best of luck in the new house!

    • Oh wow, I’m still tired from working the nightshift. Whoops.

      Let me fix that. Those mistakes are: “cue some things to download…” and “I don’t -know- that kind of plan…”

      That’s better.

      • Night shifts will do that to you! 🙂 Luckily I don’t have a cap on my internet. I’d really hate that!

  • Hubs and I came from the era of: eating in the basement on hot days; there were no home air conditioners at the time. The TV was turned off at 12:O0 via the broadcasting company. They played the star spangled banner and you went to bed if you were up that late. You had newspapers delivered to your home. My parents had both the morning newspaper and the evening newspaper. Life was a bit slower and in some aspects harder as all clothing needed to be ironed. Permanent press would come later. We were connected through the home telephone.

    I cannot say that I would like to go back and stay there, but life was a bit slower and looking back, a bit nicer. Life today is “in your face.” It seems that too many have a chip on their shoulder. No one sits on the driveway waiting for the neighbors to stop by and chat or hear the sound of the neighborhood kids playing hide and seek in and around the houses by the fire hydrant. Then seeing them run home when the street lights come on as per mom and dad’s orders.

    The thing I miss with power outages is the internet for all the reasons that were mentioned and more. We may think life is better but we are shackled to electronics whether we like it or not. Like all of you, hubs and are are involved and must keep in touch out of necessity, through, the internet.

    In my youth we went to the library every Wednesday. Today, I still prefer to learn a new skill with books.

    We do not get a newspaper or magazines. There is no need, unless of course, there is an power outage.

    Hubs and I have decided to try to live a bit slower, sit in the backyard before dusk, and enjoy the moment. If it is a raging storm we enjoy that as well and pray that there will be no problems and maybe play dominoes. Life is short.

  • I had to laugh, the advertisement at the bottom of the post was for AT&T Internet – 99.9% reliable, Keep Calm Your Internet’s On. If they only knew 😛
    I too have realized how dependent I am on Google, especially since I got my smart phone. I don’t even have to sit at the computer, I can just pull it out of my pocket and know in seconds, no need to remember anything, I can just look it up again. A habit I will work on breaking.

  • Have you considered posting a lost pet ad on Craigslist, local facebook groups, or with the nearest animal shelter? Even in rural areas it’s not impossible to recover a lost cat, especially if someone took him in, thinking he was a stray. I would also check with your nearest veterinary clinic.
    My apologies if you have already done this or reported back since this post– I tried to see if you did, but I could not find a search function on your website.
    At any rate, I hope your other pets have microchips so that they have a chance of returning home safely should anything like that happen to them.

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