THE world is full of rage. There is road rage, shopping trolley rage, e-tolls rage and, as Oscar Pistorius’s defence lawyer Barry Roux reminded us recently, “roid rage”. It emerged last week in Kenilworth in Cape Town that sex worker rage also exists.
It’s not that getting angry isn’t occasionally useful. I maintain the contractor I hired to build a pool 15 years ago would still be digging if I hadn’t explicitly expressed my ire. But when you allow anger to turn to rage, you risk becoming irrational and destructive. One of the side effects of being an old, arthritic buffalo bull is rage. And, like an old, arthritic buffalo bull, rage can be dangerous, which is why one should avoid both buffaloes and rage.
Too often recently, though, I’ve simmered irritably and then, like a mug of milk left in the microwave a second too long, spilled over in fury. It happens when, inexplicably and several times a day, the Wi-Fi signal disappears from both my desktop computer and iPhone — not necessarily at the same time, but with equal frequency.
Inevitably, the signal drops when my computer is receiving or sending an e-mail. Or it disappears when I try to access something online on my phone. The "you are not connected to the internet" message on my monitor and/or the disappearance of the 3G symbol on my phone upsets my rhythm. Frustration mounts as I’m compelled to turn the Wi-Fi off and back on again to get it to reconnect with the router. When the signal disappears from my phone, I stomp downstairs, swearing loudly as I brandish the device at the router until they deign to communicate.
I’ve tried all manner of things to improve matters. The router is elevated and located in the middle of the house. Members of the household have been commanded never to move it. A range extender was installed close to my desk. But still, the Wi-Fi comes and goes. Its instability infuriates me and, on occasions I, like many others it seems, experience Wi-Fi rage.
Inevitably, the signal drops when my computer is receiving or sending an e-mail. Or it disappears when I try to access something online on my phone. The "you are not connected to the internet" message on my monitor and/or the disappearance of the 3G symbol on my phone upsets my rhythm.
Wi-Fi rage, says Urban Dictionary.com, is "similar to road rage but the rage ensues when your Wi-Fi connection keeps dropping out". It’s an emotion that — with more and more people using Wi-Fi — is increasingly experienced across the world.
One of the aggravating factors is that the internet has trained us to be impatient. If we can’t find the information we require on one website, we immediately find it on another. We don’t have to wait for a librarian to help us locate a book. If we want to watch a show, we don’t have to wait for it to come on television. It plays when we tell it to play.
In the period of just one generation, our expectation of receiving a response to communication has shortened from days to minutes. Impatient to complain, we tweet companies rather than e-mail them. And we expect an instant response, hoping the Wi-Fi doesn’t drop before it arrives. The internet is like a tap. We turn it on and we expect instant flow. If it doesn’t happen immediately, sometimes rage ensues.
As with other rages, Wi-Fi rage can lead to outrageous behaviour. Like that of American Timothy Spiker, who was charged with second-degree assault, two counts of disorderly conduct and animal cruelty, and fined $7,500 when he threw a cat out of the window and punched a family member in the face because his Wi-Fi wasn’t working.
I haven’t tossed the cat, punched anyone or even hurled my phone across the room during my bouts of Wi-Fi rage.
I am, however, aware of how futile and exhausting it is to be enraged, which is why I’ve attached the following note to my monitor: "In case of Wi-Fi failure, keep calm and avoid the buffalo."