Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Debilitated by Downtime

This posting has been put on this blog at work.  That is because for the past six days there has been no internet connection in the house I am living in.  Since the start of April I have been living as a lodger in the house of a Lithuanian family; they have a Lithuanian lodger too.  The rent was good especially in this part of London and the room seemed to come with a range of facilities: a bed, a table and chair (it is amazing how few people include these in a rented room), a very large wardrobe, curtains covering two-thirds of the window, two cupboard slots and space in both a fridge and a freezer.  I have use of the toilet, a rather unreliable washing machine and the first sunken bath I have ever been in, decked out in the most popular bathroom colour (according to the BBC website) of the 1970s: avocado.  When looking for rooms I specified I needed parking and wireless internet connection.  I still have the former, but the latter has now disappeared.

My laptop is my prime source of information and entertainment.  I was enjoying excellent internet service for three weeks, watching television (with a licence) and playing those online games that I had been unable to indulge in while living with my parents because they only had internet to one computer and that was a very old one with stronger defences against downloads than the Pentagon.  Then one Thursday morning I woke up and it had gone.  I explained this to the landlord and his wife explained it to him again in Lithuanian.  He rooted around but nothing changed and now I am left bereft.  Yes, there are other things I can do.  I still have games that run off disk and do not need me to log on to Steam or Blizzard.  Living with my parents I built up a good range of DVDs from charity shops which can last me a while.  To some extent I can still write fiction.  However, I find unable to apply myself to any of these things.

I discussed this problem with the woman who used to live in my house.  She had no internet connection for three weeks when a worker cut through the telephone line near her house.  Getting this resolved proved a nightmare as her provider has no control over the physical provision and even BT’s abilities to repair it were hampered by what work the council would permit.  This loss of internet affected her even more than me as she was unable to pay her rent or apply for housing benefit or a motorcycle licence and certainly found it impossible to apply for most jobs she is qualified for or to find property to rent in order to restart her business.  However, like me, she also found that there were mental effects, she found herself unable to concentrate even on activities that did not require the internet; she would go to bed earlier so that the evenings would not seem so long and dreary.  I am suffering these precise symptoms and cannot write even though, in fact, I have fewer distractions than normal.  Partly I have become so used to checking facts online that now I do not trust myself to write without making grave errors that I might not spot.  This sense has been fostered by online reviewers who see a book as completely contemptuous if it gets even very minor facts wrong, or indeed, diverges from the ‘accepted’ viewpoint on a topic.

It is incredible how mentally an internet connection has not only become necessary in order to carry out various activities, but we feel somehow debilitated when it is not there.  I am going to see if I can buy some add-on to enable me to link to cloud provision as otherwise I see my life suffering because I have lost my connection to this mental umbilical cord.  The only benefit seems to be that I am now in a better position to understand the feelings that teenagers feel when they have lost their smartphone or have not checked it in the past ten minutes.


Jonathan said...

"There do not seem to be loads of UK people waiting to fill these posts..."
In the two years I was unemployed about a quarter of the jobs I applied for were these sorts of jobs - burger flipping, office cleaning, petrol dispensing, vegetable picking, shelf stacking, etc - but I never heard from any of them. Maybe I should have added some 'z's to my name and removed my qualifications from my CV.

Rooksmoor said...

I think you do not realise that for the bulk of those jobs your application would never have been considered. Companies receive so many applications that a large portion of them are binned without even being looked at. You were entering a lottery for a job.

The other issue is the sliding scale of minimum wage, so that once you are in your mid-20s you are more expensive than someone younger.

Securing jobs like that it is about contacts, turning up at the store and knowing someone already working there. That even applies for big stores like Asda.

Rooksmoor said...

This an aspect in which immigrants excel. One or two may get a post then recommend others that could also work there, from the same nationality group. You would not have that inlet. British people do not work this way, bar for a close family member. They do not get a job and recommend their neighbour or the man from the next street and so on. This is why there do not seem to be 'loads of UK people', literally as in a 'load'.

British society has been fragmented so no-one is looking out for their neighbour or people in their neighbourhood. However, if you were in Berlin or Abu Dhabi, there would be a degree of different behaviour as you would be the foreign community there. However, even then, having associated with Britons abroad we tend to still be more fragmented and less likely to help others find work even than Irish and Americans.

Yes, you might be right to conceal your qualifications if they are academic ones. Conversely you need the right set of NVQs and other vocational qualifications. Even to work flipping burgers or waiting tables you should get a hygiene certificate. You can do this online. Put that high up your CV and conceal the GCSEs beyond Maths and English. Having worked in a Job Centre even in the comparatively prosperous 1990s people were doing it back then and it is all the more necessary now.

I concealed a number of my qualifications from my current job and invented a whole story of my life (partly encouraged by my current boss) which bears little resemblance to what you would see about my life outlined here. People do not want to employ losers. This is why it is so hard to stop being long-term unemployed as you have that label on your head.