While recently trying to plan a 10-day excursion into neighboring Mozambique, I was starkly reminded of how much we depend on internet access. The excerpt below – from a conversation between myself and a local South African, Andre – gave me pause to wonder if my dependence was a need or a want…
Me: So what’s the Wi-Fi going to be like in Mozambique?
Andre: It’s not.
Andre: It’s not going to be anything.
Me: You mean there is no Wi-Fi? Or even internet access?
Me: Oh my, I don’t think I’ve ever been without internet for 10 days. I don’t think I can stay. Maybe we could go for 5 days?
Andre: Really? You have to be connected for work?
Me: Yes, I have to be able to communicate with my clients.
Me: Seriously? Maybe they have landlines only for an internet connection?
Andre: No, they don’t have anything.
Me: When was the last time you were there?
Andre: Three years ago.
Me: Well maybe things have improved.
Andre: [Laughter.] I doubt it. This is Africa.
Still in disbelief, I went online and discovered that about 5% of the Mozambican population have internet access. When electricity and online access are working properly, we don’t give the internet a second thought; our connections are often automatic or at a minimum it takes just a few clicks to connect. We need it for work, for communication, for information, for seemingly everything. However, when internet access is not available, lives (at least the lives of those who are used to having the internet) are disrupted and plans must be altered. No access breaks my routine and ruffles my feathers. I’m fairly flexible, but I want my routine.
So my answer is that the internet is a need AND a want.