This past couple of weeks has been torture for us in Southeast Asia. Thanks to a faulty Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable, countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, and Philippines have been experiencing something almost as painful as pulling teeth – slow internet.
When we’re used to having high speed internet, waiting more than a few seconds for a web page to load can be frustrating! How do we talk to our friends, or stay informed of the latest news?
Luckily, Opera the alternative web browser, has 5 suggestions to help us combat the pain-staking lull of snail-paced internet. I took the time to test these methods to see how good they were.
1) Get back to the ‘new’ traditional ways
The main theme I realised right away about almost all these steps is to treat slow internet as no internet. This means stepping away from the computer, putting down that smartphone, and going back to basics.
For example, instead of looking for entertainment online, I ended up bringing a book along for long train journeys or lunch breaks. While I had to put the book down eventually on my bus rides to avoid travel sickness, it felt nice to feel a solid book in my hands for a change. Committing to a proper book instead of gathering lots of bite-sized information from various places also seemed to be a lot less tiring, and somewhat refreshing.
It did take up much more space in my bag than usual. If you’ve invested in a Ebook reader this probably won’t affect you as much.
2) Get productive!
This one’s a bit tough, since my work occurs predominantly online, and I end up grappling with longer loading times to do regular day to day activities, like send out emails – or upload articles like this. Unless you do most of your work away from a computer screen, you would understand this frustration as well.
However, having slow internet connection also made me focus on the task at hand instead of multi-tasking checking social media while doing my work – so I guess this point has its merits. My aversion to spending time with slow internet speeds also led me to spend time on other activities, like doing the exercise I’ve been putting off for … a long time.
3) Get faster internet through Opera browsers
This one intrigued me. The Opera web browser has a feature called Opera Turbo, a web compression technology which helps to boost internet speeds. When Opera Turbo is enabled, the pages you request are passed through one of Opera’s data-saving servers which removes any extraneous page elements, shaves off image pixels you won’t miss, diagnoses the state of your connection and compresses downloads. You can also download Opera Mini browser on your mobile or tablet, and get the best speeds while on the go.
While not a fan of using multiple web browsers, I tested out Opera Mini browser. The process of downloading it was painful (argh!), but using it went pretty well. While it still lagged at times, but I would say that connectivity was somewhat better than the previous days. I may just stick with this browser for a while to ride the wave of better connections.
4) Get connected, without experiencing #FOMO
While I usually have to be on social media 24/7 to check up on my friends updates and happenings (for Fear Of Missing Out a.k.a. #FOMO), I took the weekend off my usual Facebook/Twitter/Instagram combination to focus on actually having quality time with family and friends. When you focus your time on just one or two individuals at a time, the quality of conversations improves by so much that it made me wonder how much of my online connectivity encompasses true relationship material.
It also made me realise how few real friends I have, which is a harrowing feeling. But once I got past that, I focused on being grateful for the friends I do have. And I do mean the real ones.
5) Get peace of mind
When you focus less on being frustrated about slow loading web pages and let go of your #FOMO, the internet-less life really starts to seem simpler and easier. Actually taking the time to do some exercise, spending quality time with friends, or reading a book made me realise how much time I usually spend on the internet – and how much of life I could be missing out on while checking Facebook.
While we can never separate ourselves fully from the internet, especially for those of us who have built a career out of it, slow internet speeds help remind us that there is life beyond the internet. I may still spend an ample amount of my time online, but maybe, from time to time, I’ll choose to let go of that mouse, close that laptop, and actually get some sunlight.
But on a weekday, I’ll take what I can get.