While I am fully accustomed to having to wait hours on the phone, listening to recorded messages from public utilities or banks, telling me I really should be moving with the times and doing my business online, I did not expect it from my doctor.
When I rang the practice to sort out a prescription renewal I was disturbed to find myself on hold for the best part of the day, while a recording told me how much easier things would be were I to use the website.
I wanted to scream. What is the world coming to, I thought, when you have to log on to your computer to communicate with your local surgery.
Even more farcical, I was recently with my daughters in a London restaurant when the waiter at our table told us we could order our meal using an online app.
“But wouldn’t it be easier if we just spoke to you?” I asked. “Oh, you can do that if you want,” he replied. My daughters, who are used to such things, could not see the lunacy of the situation.
I’m not a big fan of the comedian David Mitchell but his hatred of the internet struck a chord with me. He labelled it a ‘terrible disaster’, likening its creation to the invention of nuclear weapons.
I wouldn’t go that far, but I too would far rather be without.
Obviously it has advantages – my job as a journalist, for instance, was in many ways more difficult pre-internet. Research was done using either old newspaper cuttings from the library or over the phone, involving long telephone conversations.
Now, at the touch of a button, we can call up the so-called ‘information superhighway’, containing details on anything and everything.
But in other ways it is now more stressful, with billions of emails to plough through every day, and the expected instant response. Like many workplaces, we now use email far more than face-to-face or phone, eliminating the human touch.
The internet has given us the freedom to make banking transactions at any time of day or night, to shop and pay bills, book holidays and train journeys. But, despite pressure, I still do all these things the pre-internet way.
The tragedy is, nowadays such things probably ARE easier online.
Last week I was struggling to book an appointment for a boiler service. I had been hanging on the phone for hours, furious about the constant ‘go online’ messages. My colleague persuaded me to confront my fears and do it. Within minutes an appointment was booked.
I had done it, but using online services in place of those previously manned by people, rankles with me.
I read this week that people are even using prayer apps – yes, no joke, there is such a thing – instead of going to church.
The internet has also brought social media, which seems to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Recently it was blamed for wreaking havoc on the quality of sleep of millions of teenagers.
Earlier this year a report was published by an all-party parliamentary group proposing that internet addiction could be classified as a disease.
David Mitchell hit out at the impact of online shopping, cyber-bullying and fake news. He said would be more comfortable in a pre-internet world. He said he would prefer to go back to the late-1980s. That would suit me – although I might go even further and switch that to the 1880s.
But now the genie is out of the bottle, there is, sadly, no going back.