I grew up in rural Missouri, and was blown away at the speed of DSL (the light speed internet of the era), what was only available in more populated areas. My friends had connections to the internet that were absolutely incredible, while my home had a dial-up connection of around 26,000 kbps. For those of you who don’t have a technical background, that means that modern gmail loads about 25% of the time. It meant that videos, games, and music loaded in seconds, rather than having to let a Mesozoic Era pass before you can participate in society.
In order to use our family computer, and access the internet, my brother and I had to pay $1.00 an hour. To fund our technologic habit, we could do various chores around the farm; mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, or shining shoes. I hated it. I hated it so much. When I was young, I loathed the idea that I had to work so much harder than my peers to earn privileges that they were just given. It made me resent my parents that I was being forced to do so much more, to access something so much less (and believe me, dial-up is less than virtually anything else). If you weren’t able to afford internet access, you either earned more money, or enjoyed a book by lamp light.
It wasn’t until my college years that the lesson sunk in.
I was in my dorms in Maryville, Missouri, when the internet for the campus went down. We lost our access to the world wide web, and for the academic program I was in, that was a huge deal. The internet was key to about everything we did in that program, from socializing to homework. Every profanity you know, along with some particularly novel expletives, filled the halls of our building. Without having the ability to message, check social media, or play games, the plans of my contemporaries had been shredded.
While the rants and raves of a person denied filled the hallway, I remember taking out my Walkman, popping in an Iron Maiden CD, and setting out on a multi-lap walk around campus in the refreshing night air. We’d lost access to the world wide web, and I certainly wasn’t going to be able to fix it.
I'm not sure if the internet was fixed that night. I do know that the walk was probably better for me in every way.
My point is this: If you learn to be happy with less, you will lead a happier life. I think it is easy to adapt to comforts, and moan when they are gone. However, most of those comforts don’t really make your life easier, they only help you pass the time.
At Liftoff, one of our philosophies is that you should focus on the things that are truly important to you, and pursue those values. Life will be much simpler if you do.