Maddy Butcher is the author of “Horse Head: Brain Science & Other Insights” and director of the Best Horse Practices Summit.

Thanks to the $65 billion allocated for broadband expansion to rural America in the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, the convenience of connectivity will finally be available to country-dwellers like me. The laying of countless miles of fiber-optic cable is a prelude to more cell towers and better, more widespread phone reception.

I know that perpetual connectivity will be, on the whole, a good thing in southwestern Colorado. But I can’t help already mourning what I think of as JOMO — the joy of missing out.

Yes, narrowing the digital divide is overdue. The need was made heartbreakingly clear last year when schools in Montezuma County, Colo., turned to remote learning. Many high school students who had a driver’s license but no Internet connection at home would drive dozens of miles and park outside school buildings to attend virtual classes and submit homework. Younger siblings were shuttled to town to do the same. No doubt similar routines prevailed in rural areas all over the country.

Schools tried to compensate by providing students with laptops and personal hotspots, but the latter work only if you have line of sight on a cell tower. If Menefee Peak or Mesa Verde stand in the way, forget it.

For many years, I lived in a canyon with steep ridges on each side. At the house, there was no ability to stream video or make cellphone calls. (Reaching emergency-services dispatch became possible only a few years ago, when the county established a text 911 option.) While I came to embrace my digital isolation, most guests were bewildered.

I’m wary of more connectivity, for a variety of reasons.

One big concern about a wired-up countryside is deteriorating relationships — not between people, though that’s probably inevitable, too, but between people and nature. Acquaintances in other rural parts of the country express similar worries.

“When I’m working out on the land, I never want to be connected digitally,” says Joe Morris, whose Morris Grassfed cattle ranch is in San Juan Bautista in central California. “We like to be quiet. We want to be grounded, with animals and the land and with the mysteries we engage with.”

Cooper Hibbard, whose family owns the Sieben Live Stock Co. in Adel, Mont., tells me that working on the ranch, “Every day, you’re reminded that you’re not the top dog. There are bigger forces at work and we are humbled every day.”

I was reminded of this last summer, when I was riding in the San Juan National Forest. Over the course of a day, my young dog was injured, the chain saw I was carrying damaged my saddle and I pulled a hamstring. I struggled to get on my big gray gelding. As a steady rain fell, we reached the truck in the pitch dark and loaded up for the hour’s drive home.

I was nowhere near a cell tower or anyplace with WiFi, so asking someone to lend a hand wasn’t an option. Connectivity would have been a godsend in a real emergency, but it didn’t occur to me to ask for help in this case. Ultimately, it was another day informed, blessed even, by a visceral connection to land, animals and the ever-evolving singularities of our interactions.

The thing about working with animals, often in backcountry, is that it requires complete focus — the sort of focus undermined by a smartphone’s allure. When helping move cattle, I’m on a horse and using two border collies, intensely aware of the steady interplay of the animals, the land, the weather and time. How I position myself and how I anticipate events require care and consideration. Recreationalists — and I count myself as one — must be similarly vigilant as they move across the land. Inattentive missteps can quickly lead to peril.

You might be thinking: Just silence your phone. Tell that to all those drivers going 70 mph on the highway, staring at their phones, unable to resist the dopamine-reward loops. For now, being out of cell range while out on the range takes away temptation.

A related worry is the effect that constant connectivity will have on the good old American principles of independence and self-reliance.

Right now, there’s a sort of reverse digital divide on that front: People in cities and suburbs seem to happily rely on YouTube tutorials, gig workers, Google Maps and countless other online crutches for solving problems.

Out here, being real-world handy and resourceful is essential. Most of my friends have more skills, strength and savvy than I do, but I can still sew, camp, fish, swing a hammer, change a tire and fix a fence. You pay attention to the weather, not You develop a feel for the day, for the seasons, for the air and the animals, because it not only elevates your life but, practically speaking, it matters. If you are riding off the mountain on horseback in the dark, that “feel” is learning to drop the reins because he knows the way home better than you do. It’s our version of hands-free wireless communication.