The universal rule of being a South African is that if we can’t see what it does and it never works, it’s either Eskom, Home Affairs, or an Internet Service Provider.
Sometimes, it feels like every time a Fibre line drops somewhere in China, our Twitter feed becomes more expletive laden than Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on an average Wednesday. We get it, there are few things more frustrating than slow Internet or a connection which keeps on buffering. Many of our users immediately blame Vox (to be fair, why wouldn’t they – we have ONE JOB, right?), and sometimes question our usefulness. We try not to take it personally, but sometimes it can sting – so here’s our two cents as to why we’re kind of useful, as well as how you can say “whoosa” until the Internet is back up.
But first, what is an ISP and why do we need it?
An Internet Service Provider (or ISP) is the term used for a company which provides customers with Internet access. As opposed to back in the day, when Telkom ruled the world and dinosaurs roamed their head office, there are now an abundance of options for the end user to choose from. Some will fill your head with promises of affordable, reliable connectivity and leave you out in the Rain. Others desire to Host Africa, but their brand identity alone is a red flag.
Whenever you hear someone complaining about their ‘provider’ (which is more common than a Polo driving at 60 in the fast lane), chances are they’re fighting with one of our fellow ISP’s. In its simplest form, however, any ISP is effectively your main gateway to connectivity and internet connection – unless of course you’re stealing your neighbours Wi-Fi password.
Your Service Provider is the company that allows your home devices to connect to the Internet in the first place.
See, you can have a shiny new gaming laptop with all the trimmings, built-in modem and even a router, but without an ISP subscription, you’ll have as much Internet connectivity as SAA has capital. We facilitate the process of getting you connected; from connecting you to a Fibre line, to providing you with your router, making sure your internet is fully functional, ensuring that we deliver what we’ve been paid for and more.
That being said, we’ve all been there, and we’ve all felt the pain of innocently working from home when your Wi-Fi cuts without warning. You’re on a roll, the words are spreading like butter on hot toast, and suddenly everything drops like City Power took over our server room. Or, even worse, you’re at the climax of your favourite series (which hopefully has a better ending than ‘Lost”) and you suddenly start rainbow wheeling.
Insert panic attack and add a few expletives along the way.
Whether we’re honest about it or not, Internet makes the world go around – and many of us can feel a bit alienated once our connectivity stops playing ball. Short of disconnecting the router repeatedly and hoping something changes, there’s not much we can do when the signal drops – and this feeling of powerlessness only compounds our frustration. It’s a strange reality, but we’ve become so accustomed to being ‘plugged in’ to our interconnected world that even a minute’s separation can be anxiety inducing – especially when you NEED to be online.
Stress not, however, because there are in fact ways to stay productive even if you’re offline. Be it in the office, at home, or on the road, here are a few ways to stay sane while disconnected (maybe save this in your screenshot folder – just in case).
- Master the art of working offline.
Aside from a little research on the web and an Emailed submission for proofing, 90% of this article was in fact written independently of the Internet. Most projects, unless using digital software, can actually be completed without being connected. We’re not saying it’s ideal, but in the event of your Internet going AWOL, a handy way to stay productive is to identify projects you can complete on your own and get them out the way – picking up the rest once the grey dinosaur goes away (we promise that rhyme was coincidental).
- Do a ‘brain dump’
This one is for the creatives. It can be difficult to find time in our busy lives for creativity exercises that seem “extra” — like a brain dump. But those times when the internet isn’t there to distract you can be the perfect excuse to dig into your subconscious and let that creativity flow freely.
What exactly is a brain dump, you ask? Simple: Open up a new document on your computer or even a good ol’ notebook, and start writing down anything that’s on your mind. You can do a focused brain dump where you pick a specific topic and run with it, or a general brain dump where you literally write down anything that’s on your mind and see where it leads you. Don’t worry if your ideas are all over the place — that’s the whole point. Just let it out. No structure necessary.
Once you reach a good breaking point, look at what you’ve written and see if you can start to group your thoughts together by category, and pick out which ideas could be actionable. Then, you can start prioritising them, making a to-do list, and thinking about executions.
- Talk to people
Yup, basic humanity 101 – have actual, real-life conversations. Those moments of undisturbed, un-connected bliss may be your best chance of getting your team to spit out some amazing ideas. Any brainstorming session is bound to be disturbed by an Email, a vibrating phone, or that guy who needs to prove to the office that he can take calls on his watch – and this doesn’t even cover virtual meetings.
Getting your team in a room without the looming threat of a disruptive notification might sound like a scene from ‘Mad Men’, but it’s the foundation upon which great ideas were built. You know how they say there’s no school like the old school? In this case, there’s no conversation like real conversation.
- Enjoy it.
Yes, being disconnected is frustrating, but have you ever gone on a trip somewhere and noticed how much more you enjoy life when there’s no signal? Sometimes, you need to look away from your screen to see how much of life is passing us by. Read a book. Practice your Photoshop skills. Make yourself a good lunch. Take a coffee break on the balcony and watch the passing cars. There are an infinite number of small moments you can use to make a big impact. Remember, a minute wasted doing nothing is a minute you could have spent enjoying something – so rather than scream at your Twitter and hope your device connects, take a minute to enjoy having a minute.