Maybe you know the feeling of being your own Help Desk? One of the realities of independent, flexible, anywhere/anytime, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) knowledge work is that you, the non-IT professional have to serve as your own IT department.
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid pointed out the frustrations and inefficiencies of the home office in their book, The Social Life of Information (2000, Harvard Business School Press).
About a week ago, we lost our broadband at home. It occurred early on a Saturday morning, so we gracefully took an Internet sabbath and didn't worry about it, preferring to focus on our new dog and the arrival of spring in the southern hemisphere. Monday morning I launched my career as infrastructure analysis. I eschewed my ISP's suggestion of using their on-line tool to help with my broadband issue. Instead, I enlisted the help of various real live IT specialists (better than me) in India and a few other countries, whose accents I could not identify for certain. Great folks. All too willing to help me out. When a Filipino technician arrived at my door, I thought, wow--life imitating the Net! Turns out that after my ISP (Internet Service Provider) had solved their network problem, somehow our wireless router no longer could connect.
Hmmm.... our ISP recommended we use their router, which because we are 'premium' customers (presumably because we pay our bills, as I have no idea what other 'premium' services we are getting), was free. Such a deal. Of course, it had to be couriered out to us, which would be within 2-5 business days, but I was assured it would be the lesser. What to do in the meantime? Well, at first I was anxious. It seemed almost everything I wanted to do required the Internet. OK, settle down. Surely there is something you can do. Fortunately, I have a chapter due in a month and so I took the opportunity to have two very productive writing days. Wonderful. I didn't even miss the Net after a while. I thought of myself as being at a writers' retreat. I experienced Zen-like bliss until the modem/router arrived as promised by the end of the second day. We're back!
That was Round 1 of the disconnect. Round 2 began with the optimism of a successful Round 1, wherein I got drawn into a series of optional little 'improvements' to our home network. I figured, why not, as I had to install the new router anyway. One thing led to another and soon I was in a Bermuda Triangle of random techno-weirdness. A password here, a password there, what is the name of the new network? Apple-related problems always take me by surprise, because I expect all things Apple to 'just work,' but indeed, that is not always the case.
I got super frustrated heading into our second weekend off-line. Not because I couldn't work, but because I couldn't a) try out Facetime with my Dad to b) show Mom and Dad our new (rescued) dog. Lesson: The emotions associated with dis-connectivity may be stronger for personal and family connections than being separated from work. (Although my work frustrations would have been higher, had I not been on sabbatical.
Once back on line, I was proud of my Self-Help Desk success. Let's not talk of the productivity and cost implications of do-it-yourself IT. Let's consider the psychological phases of dis-connectivity.
The Psychological Phases of Dis-Connectivity
Stage 1: Denial - 'This can't be happening to me.'
Stage 2: Anger - 'Dammit.'
Stage 3: Blame - 'This is so-and-so's fault' (Microsoft, telcos are the usual suspects).
Stage 4: Hope - 'They say it will be fixed any time now.'
Stage 5: Faith - 'This was probably a good thing to do anyway.'
Stage 6: Appreciation - 'Thank goodness for technology--when it works.'
Stage 7: Zen - 'I don't really need to be on-line to live a good life.'
Here is a great TED Talk by Andrew Blum about the physical reality of the Internet.
And, here are some reminders of what successful people do when they are off-line.