This post was written by Susanna T. of Leverett, MA.
While my neighbors in central Massachusetts were sitting on the edge of their seats during the Super Bowl last month, I was sitting on the edge of my seat…waiting for my email to download. In our small town of Leverett, these sorts of frustrations have become the norm for my husband and I, as our current satellite Internet service makes it all too difficult to balance work and family.
I’m the director of communications at a boarding school in nearby Greenfield, Mass., while my husband is the head lacrosse coach at a nearby college. Those may not sound like the sorts of technology-focused jobs that require constant Internet access, but an unreliable Internet connection can prove a real impediment to both our careers. As a communications director, I’m constantly working with large files, while my husband needs to watch game tape and check in with recruits – tasks that become immensely difficult with our unreliable service. Many days, my husband will leave for the office before the sun rises, just to catch up on work he can’t do from home. Meanwhile, every day my daughter has to miss school – whether due to sickness or snow – is another day I can’t get work done, and have to play catch-up at work. As two driven individuals striving for successful careers, my husband and I are placed at a real disadvantage by a lack of fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.
Of course, poor connectivity doesn’t just affect our jobs – it also affects our family life. My husband and I both have parents living hours away – mine outside of Philadelphia, his in Maine – and unreliable satellite Internet makes it impossible for us to catch up with family by Skype or FaceTime and for them to watch our daughter grow. And every morning my husband has to head into the office before dawn to catch up on work costs him time with our daughter.
Thankfully, the community of Leverett has recognized the importance of broadband Internet to life in the 21st century. When we decided to move to Leverett, a big deciding factor was the city’s plan to put in a fiber network, providing faster Internet at a much lower cost to residents. For our family, like so many others around the country, better Internet offers an opportunity for us to better balance our lives between the demands of work and the compelling drive to be engaged, present parents in our children’s lives.