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Last Sunday I worked all afternoon on the Internet through my laptop’s wireless connection. I uploaded a blogpost, responded to email, read newsletters, and checked the answers to The New York Times crossword puzzle. (I didn’t do very well on the puzzle this week.)

About 5:00pm the Internet suddenly vanished. Poof! it was gone.

When my laptop lost its connection, I went to our family desktop, which is wired into the router and modem. Usually, disconnecting and rebooting the router and modem fixes the problem.

No such luck Sunday. Nothing brought our connection back. I couldn’t get any more work done. My husband was lost that evening, his plans wiped out.  He had to clean his desk. (That wasn’t my choice of Internet withdrawal therapy — I took the opportunity to read a book guilt-free.)

I’d hoped the connection would magically re-appear on Monday, perhaps resolved by the service provider somewhere upstream from us. But no. So Monday morning I headed to the nearest library branch for free wi-fi, and did my Internet business.

When I had done the essentials for the day, I returned home to call our service provider. First, I had to figure out how to find a customer service phone number without the computer connection. Thank goodness my smartphone still worked. I got a number and spent 45 minutes on the phone with the representative.

We managed to get Internet service back — but only wired to the desktop. My laptop still couldn’t see the world outside our home. Nor could I surf on my e-reader. Nor on any other wireless device in the house. The problem appeared to be the router.

I sent my dad a whiny email Monday afternoon (from the desktop, since that’s all that worked).  His response, in part, said:

“Isn’t it amazing how attached we get to cyberspace and feel completely out of it when something goes wrong?  What happened to the good old days?

“When the telephone went dead on the farm, Grandma told Grandpa, and he followed the fence line until he found the break.  Usually, a cow or horse had broken through the fence line which was another bigger problem.”

Our world has changed in the last 75 years. Like my father said, we are lost without the Internet at our fingertips.  Never mind that an encyclopedia used to be the only way to get information. Now we expect to find the answer to any trivial question within seconds.

Email. Facebook. Google. Wikipedia. Our social and intellectual lives are more and more associated with the world online, and not with the world we sense.

Are we better off than Grandma and Grandpa? Most of the time I think so, but some days I wonder.

And then I go through Internet withdrawal, and reach for a book.

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