Day Nine: The Five Stages of Internetlessness

Ten days without Internet in my room.

I’m almost halfway done living in this building and now I’ve reached the bargaining stage of grief.

According to the Kubler-Ross model, the stages of grief are as follows: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I think these are usually attributed to individuals dealing with death, so maybe it’s a little trite/inconsiderate/selfish of me to attribute them to my Internetlessness, but it certainly feels like a part of me has died these past nine days, so fuck it.

Denial lasted about the first twenty-four hours. I just refused to believe I’d have to go nineteen days without Internet. It didn’t seem possible that a building in the 21st century wouldn’t have WIFI in its rooms. In one last hope, maybe, just, maybe, I thought I could get a router and pick up the signal from downstairs. The denial finally came to an end when the Best Buy employee I asked mercilessly informed me that I’d need a router at least on every other floor for that to work. Which just didn’t seem plausible (though I did consider it for a few minutes).

The Anger stage certainly isn’t hard to identify. I’ve been very angry this entire time. Like, WHY THE FUCK CAN’T I GET INTERNET IN MY ROOM?!!!?! GOD FUCKING DAMMIT I SHOULDN’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM. THIS IS NEW YORK CITY – THE ENTIRE CITY SHOULD HAVE WIFI. THIS IS THE BIGGEST BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. FUCKING. I get angry at very little things, a displacement of my anger at being Internetless. I seem to always be on edge, my usual constant anxiety kicked up a notch without the Internet to subside it. I don’t think the anger will go away either. It feels like the stage that carries over throughout.

But now I’ve reached bargaining. I started thinking last night about the things I’d give up to get Internet in my room. When I actually thought about it, there isn’t much I wouldn’t give up. The list includes:

–       Lights in my room. I’d gladly use just the sun as light in my room if it meant I could get online. My computer screen is all the light I’d need after the sun went down.

–       Air Conditioning. I do have this one modern convenience in my room, but I would undoubtedly trade it for Internet. I can stand to get a little sweaty. I don’t have A/C at home, so I probably wouldn’t even flinch. Every room in this building has A/C, but none have WIFI. That’s some shit.

–       The elevator. If I had to climb all thirteen flights of stairs to get to my room, but that room had Internet, I wouldn’t mind a bit. I might even prefer it. It would eliminate the possibility of infinitely awkward elevator rides with ten chatty African-American teenage girls (I swear if this happens again tonight, I won’t make it up all 13 floors).

–       The Subway. Again, if I had to walk to work instead of the 5-minute subway ride it takes me now, but my room had an Internet connection, I’d do it. Hell, I’d save money and maybe get in shape. Sure, it’d take me longer to get to work, but fuck if I care. My room would have Internet.

–       Bathroom. If I had to come down to the lobby to use the bathroom instead of having to come down to use the Internet, well, that’s a trade I’d make. I’m not as confident in my choice as the others, but I still think I’d do it. I could definitely time my bodily functions so I would only have to use the bathroom when I’m leaving for work and when I get back. I also thought about giving up the bathrooms in my entire building. If I could only use the bathroom at work. That’s a tough call. I’m not sure if I would make that trade. But if they promised me a high-speed Internet connection in my room, I’d be very tempted.

The one thing I wouldn’t give up is my phone. Seeing as how it’s the one Internet connection I actually have in my room. And my connection to the outside world. And it tells me which Subway train to take. So no, I would not trade my phone for Internet in my room. If only I had a tethering plan.

Go ahead, try and think of something else I wouldn’t give up for Internet. I’m telling you, the list is much shorter than you think.

I’m a little worried about the Depression stage. If you had asked me, I would’ve said I’ve already reached that stage. Things got pretty dark a few days ago. So if the real Depression stage is still ahead of me, watch out. I’m going to need my Parks and Rec DVDs more than ever.

I can tell you exactly when I’ll hit the acceptance stage. It’ll come the evening of May 31st, as soon as I head upstairs after one last night in the lobby using the Internet. The next morning I’ll move out of here and into a building with WIFI in the rooms. And my nineteen days will be over. That’s when I’ll finally accept this. Not a moment sooner.

Those are my five stages of grief. The five stages of Internetlessness. If there’s one thing this experience is, it’s an opportunity to psychologically explore the deep abysses of my mind. I’m going to try and find as many psychological theories as I can to apply to these nineteen days.

I’ll leave you tonight with this:

Someone on the 13th floor has their own Internet. A “Verizon MIFI” network now appears when I try to access the Internet in my room. This is a very recent development – I just noticed it last night. I have to find this person. And offer them money for their password. They really shouldn’t taunt me like this – I’m unstable as it is. Having this WIFI network waved right in front of me without a chance to use it is the last thing I need right now. God damn.

Oh, and the NYPL really needs power outlets in its WIFI room.

-Ben Cosman