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By the very virtue of the fact that I maintain a blog as well as being a paid contributor to an on-line media group, the internet and its associated tools are important for me. Indeed for practically all journalists and writers these days, it’s almost an essential part of the gig, especially for those trying to get their name ‘out there’ or build up a following. Of course the same could be said for most, if not all, professions.

The wilderness next to the madness: a mountain desert hideaway next to Bogotá, Colombia.

Moving into the wilderness, away from a tech-driven world: it has a certain appeal to it. Plus, there are always smoke signals to use to communicate; more reliable than ETB …

Therefore, and only looking at this from a work perspective not a social one, when it fails you, it makes your working life damn difficult, frustrating and close to impossible. You could say it’s like an old-school trench digger without a shovel; the whole operation becomes infinitely harder.

OK, while a man being asked to dig trenches mightn’t be too bothered if he’s without his shovel through no fault of his own — it should mean a less taxing day — the majority of us who rely on the internet tool get stressed out when we don’t have it.

In Bogotá’s historical centre La Candelaría, where only one seemingly incompetent operator, ETB, is the provider, irregular, unreliable service is par for the course; as is the case for many things throughout Colombia you could argue.

Now I’ve been trying to let it slide, to not get worked up about it. There are far worse, life or death problems both here and elsewhere that make no internet connection pale into insignificance. It’s a First World issue being played out in a Second/Third World country. But when you pay for a ‘service’ where a large part of your income depends on it functioning as promised, it can be hard not to lose the cool when it frequently fails.

ETB, Colombia.

ETB: the best thing you could say about them is that they try; not very well, but they try …

It does, however, make me dream about being in a position to leave the communications loop, to go underground so to put it. That is, not to be reliant on the internet and all associated with it; both good and evil as these things can be. About the only way you can do that, though, is if you escape from the ‘madness’ and go to live in the middle of the jungle or some other wilderness, completely removing yourself from the modern world.

It must be said that in many ways I am a conservative technology user as is. I’m still pretty much a smartphone novice, with my use of it limited enough. It enables me to write practically anywhere I am and WhatsApp is a cheap way of maintaining work and social contacts. For both monetary and ‘switching off’ reasons I don’t have a data plan. So I can only use the phone to its fullest when I’m connected to Wi-Fi and that’s enough; when I’m out socialising I don’t need to be checking e-mails nor engaging in virtual chats.

Yet the idea of totally withdrawing from technology and virtual communication while still living in the modern world is akin to becoming a nobody (I’m not quite there yet, so I like to think). Invasive technology has come to dominate our lives in almost every facet; not being part of it puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

That being so, the key is to try and take control of it, not let it control you. We need to find the balance and know when to step back from it. The machines may be rising, but we’re still the ones at the pulley.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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