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Tech by VICE

Losing My Wi-Fi Is Like Going Deaf

by Warren Ellis
Feb 12 2013, 4:52pm

I’ve started this column five times, and all I’ve really got is: “I’ve literally just gotten back from two weeks on the road and I have no idea what to talk about.” I am one million, two hundred and nine thousand and six hundred seconds behind everybody. My phone becomes developmentally disabled the second I enter the USA unless I’m prepared to pay some extortionate rate for international cellular connection.

American TV news provision is famously awful. I was treated to the view of Anderson Cooper, presiding over CNN like some slick straight-to-DVD supervillain, sending reporters out into lethal blizzards and forcing them to describe what standing unprotected in the middle of a lethal fucking blizzard is like. (A lethal fucking blizzard unilaterally named "Nemo" not by any meteorological service, but by The Weather Channel, who are doubtless well aware that the word means “no one".)

Hotel wi-fi is always depressed by some bastard in the room next door downloading what is evidently All The Porn In The World. Most Transatlantic planes still don’t have wi-fi, because, I don’t know, communications satellites are fucking fairy tales or something. I don’t have that Fear Of Missing Out thing that everyone was talking about last year. I have a physical sensation that is not unlike being partially deaf for a while.

Apparently British ready meals are all made out of horsemeat and some idiot’s built an invisible phone and an actual Maniac Cop is running around California with drones chasing him and I’m telling you now, that if those drones are armed then Afghanistan just came to America and the United States just broke through into a scary, new future, and also we all now know what the inevitable Rambo remakes will look like and we’re drilling into rocks on Mars and Raytheon, who accidentally invented the microwave oven out of high-powered radar tubes, have been caught running the sort of freaky analytics packages that we were talking about here just a couple of months ago. I missed all this.

For god’s sake, I can read news off a bin in London.

Am I complaining about wealthy First World problems? I surely am. But I paid good money for my devices to be assembled by the stumps and gums of foreign proletariats precisely so that I could ascend to the 21st century privilege of knowing everything, everywhere, at all times. That Raytheon package pisses me off because nobody tried to sell it to me. I am British, and the access to and projection of invisible lines of power is as much my birthright as appalling teeth, congenital blood disorders, the ability to chop other countries up into any shape we bloody well like and the holy intent to make anything that grows, walks, crawls or flops into a “pudding” of some kind.

I would check my privilege, but, frankly, if I took it out I’d probably get charged roaming fees on it.

So basically everything is annoying and the world’s gotten even weirder and I’m looking into having some kind of uplink and server implanted in my expensively-maintained adipose fat tissues as a pre-emptive defence against the day that we all have internet connections in our heads but the phone companies can shut off parts of our brains when we travel internationally because of data caps. I have no intent of buying pre-paid skull dongles from airport kiosks, and neither should you.

Follow Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis

Image by Marta Parszeniew.

This column originally appeared at VICE UK

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