Sometimes the Old Gray Lady has a very interesting idea or story. Here’s one about the fading tranquility of happy, wireless-free life in a land gone media mad.
The off-grid places are disappearing. And that’s as it should be. We must wire up rural America; cell service is now a utility almost as essential as electricity or heat. In April, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will hold the biggest auction of radio spectrum in this country’s history; the auction, scheduled for late this year, is part of an effort to spread cell coverage to even the most remote towns ahead of the rollout of 5G networks.
Unfortunately, ownership of the telecommunication grids will go to corporate giants rather than to the communities themselves. But even so, small towns are fighting to be wired up. It’s likely that in 10 or so years, the country will be blanketed with signal, from sea to shining sea.
I’m hopeful that when that happens, we might retain just a few quiet places where it’s still possible to disconnect.
Activists have already created “dark sky reserves” to protect wilderness from artificial light. In the future, might we also create “privacy reserves” where we can go to escape the ubiquitous internet?
The irony is that, even as I type this on a laptop, wi-fi connected to Skynet, and with a stupid phone by my side, I consider that maybe all the technology could have been a mistake. To back 20 years. Or, 40. 400?