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Free WiFi: Privilege or right?

I was 21 when I bought my very first laptop. One week into my purchase I reached a revelation: I can learn how to do ANYTHING online! It started with learning how to make granola. (I was on a health kick at the time.) I went to the trusty Google and typed, “How to make granola.” Sure enough, hundreds of thousands of granola recipes, tools and tips came up. After that, all of the questions I’d ever wondered were entered into that search engine:

What is “avant-garde”?
How are there waves in the ocean?
When is Demi Moore’s birthday?
Who was Ja Ja Gabour? (Google automatically corrected me by saying: “Did you mean, “Who was Zsa Zsa Gabor.”) Amazing.

Having benefited from this technology for several years now, I find it hard to believe that certain places still charge for wireless Internet access. It was one thing when laptops were a novelty and cell phones only existed in the hands of corporate executives. But times are a changin’. Why not access to the Internet, too?

Just to paint a clearer picture, my newly-driving, 16-year-old brother upgraded to a Blackberry Tour five months before me because his Verizon Wireless contract had reached two years.  Surely, you can do the math and realize that people who are googling (and yes, that word exists in the dictionary now) are becoming younger and younger as well.

Today, I rely on the Internet for nearly everything — although I still ask my mother how to cook lentils. It’s gotten so bad that when someone asks me a simple question I don’t know how to answer, I’m annoyed because they could have easily googled it themselves. And if we’re somewhere without Internet access, I feel compelled to look it up on my smartphone browser because by then I’m dying to know too!

So when is this endless information cycle going to end? When someone figures out how the Internet can become a right, not a privilege! Or maybe that’s when the information curve will turn into a vertical line.  Hmmm…I’ll have to google that.

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