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The world without the Internet is a scary place

world no internet

What scares you the most; sharks, snakes, heights? Not me. I’d wrap a snake around my neck and take a flying leap off the highest diving board into a pool full of sharks before I faced my worst fear: losing the Internet forever!

That might sound crazy coming from someone who was alive before the Internet really took off: surely life wasn’t all that bad? The sun was still shining, people still had food and water and no one had to worry about being tagged in an embarrassing photo at the Christmas party.

It wasn’t so much that life before the Internet was particularly scary. However, as the World Wide Web became so deeply woven into society and our everyday lives, it became part of our lifeblood. More than a collection of cables and some satellites, the Internet has almost become a virtual life form in itself, and we are now so dependent on it, that its sudden disappearance would surely lead to widespread chaos and anarchy.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways life would be a struggle without the Internet.

Losing precious time

Infinity time. Digital generated

The Internet has made so many things instantaneous, I imagine Google alone has probably saved years of people’s time. I love that whenever there is something I don’t know, there is a clever little machine in my pocket that can give me an answer straight away. If I had to hunt down the family dictionary every time someone said a word I hadn’t heard before, or make a trek to the library and find the specific alphabetical volume of Atlas to learn more about certain subject, I’d end up pulling all my hair out.

And yet, that’s exactly what I used to do. In primary school, when we had an assignment, it was off to the library, navigating the Dewey Decimal System to find the collection of books loosely related to the subject. And even after reading all 500 pages of a book, you’d only end up with 2 sentences of relevant information. I never would’ve survived my university days of 2 or more assignments a week without the aid of free online journals. Sure, I managed to endure it before, but, like a bad ex, there are just some things you can never go back to!

As a 9-to-5 worker, I rely heavily on the Internet to complete those daily tasks that are difficult or time consuming outside of office hours. Paying my car registration, banking, even shopping for gifts is just so much quicker and easier with the Internet. If there’s an online way to do something, that’s the only way I want to do it!

An Economic Disaster

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org This photo expresses how I feel about our current government budget.

If the Internet ceased to exist tomorrow, it would rip the guts out of economic activity. Companies whose entire business relies on the Internet, such as Google and Facebook, would be brought to a grinding halt and their stocks would plummet, causing widespread panic in the financial markets. In Australia alone, 94% of small businesses required a connection to conduct their work, according to a 2014 report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Millions of people would be unemployed almost instantaneously: web designers, social media workers and bloggers (such as myself) would be put out of work in a mass scale unemployment crisis. Sure, the Internet has made some jobs redundant, but it has been estimated the Internet has made 2.6 new jobs for every 1 it has made obsolete.

To add to our financial woes, without the Internet the banking system would fail, and banks would most likely restrict access to account holders and close their doors, meaning no one would be able to withdraw money. With the systems that were in place for ordering food down, stocks will deplete and may not be replenished. With no access to their money and diminishing food supplies, people are likely to turn nasty and crime rates would soar.

Eventually, we should be able to reinvent the systems we relied on to an offline model, but it would take a long time, and society would be in complete disarray in the interim.

Loss of information

Delete

I can guarantee it’s happened at least once in your life: you’re working on something really important. You’re so focused and “in the zone” you can’t possibly take your eyes off your work for even a second to do something as totally tedious as saving it… Cue sudden power outage! Your magnum opus is now lost forever, gone with the wind, and not a trace of its existence remains (unless you’re lucky enough to have it AutoSaved).

The feeling of losing work you have spent hours on is not fun. Even worse is trying to explain to your boss, tutor or teacher why you missed a deadline while the look in their eyes makes you feel like you’ve just spun the old “dog ate my homework” rhetoric. Now multiply this feeling by a billion, and you’ll get close to understanding the pain of losing all of the information on the Internet.

Webpages that acted as the only storage space for certain information would disappear, and all of that data along with it. Even if that information is available somewhere else buried deep in the dark depths of some library, it won’t be in one central location you can find at the click of a button. And although it may seem like a small deal to some, I need to know what other movies that actress is in (she looks so familiar!) and what is ratio of water I need to cook rice again?

All by myself

iStock_000003980592Small

The world without Internet is a much lonelier and isolating place. How many people would you have lost from your life forever if it wasn’t for the Internet? I know for myself, that I have managed to re-connect with old neighbours, primary school friends and relatives overseas thanks to social media and the wonderful connecting power of the Internet. Sure, we’d still have telephones, but short of hiring a private investigator (who, even then, would have their work cut out for them!), you would no longer have a way to find people you lost contact with.

Surveys have shown that people feel lonelier without the Internet. Without the social networking, emails and instant messaging we have become accustomed to, life can feel quite lonesome. One of my favourite things about the Internet is that, even if no one in your “real life” has the same interests or personality type as you, there is someone, if not entire groups of people, you can find online that do. Websites like meetup.com make it easy to find other people close to you who have the same interests and hobbies.

Without the Internet, dating would also be more difficult. A study by the University of Chicago found that one third of married couples surveyed met online. And it makes a lot of sense to me. Finding the right person for you is way harder than Disney makes it out to be: most of us don’t just randomly trip over the love of our life in the street. Online dating allows you to tell prospective partners exactly what you are looking for and thus attract people who want the same things as you.

Now for the good news

iStock_000006470578Illustra

The Internet is robust and reliable. It’s vast, made up of cables that span the entire globe, so there’s unlikely to be an event that could switch off the entire Internet. The Internet is not just one big ‘thing’: it’s a network of networks. Therefore it would be almost impossible to take down every single part all at once. Even if one large portion was taken out, there would still be enough remaining networks to keep the Internet alive. It’s thought (and hoped!) that the Internet is practically indestructible.

What would you find most difficult about living in a world without the Internet? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credits

Wikimedia commons

Ken Teegardin

15 comments

  1. Michael says:

    The Internet and computers in general make data harder to lose. Think of all those stories about authors who lost the only manuscript of their book and had to re-write it from page one.

    As for the Internet being robust, well it was designed to survive a nuclear attack!

  2. Scatcat says:

    Not being able to read these clever and amusing blogs would make life less joyful :) Great article.

  3. RJ San Jose says:

    I am experiencing this at the moment as there are no telecom infrastructure in our area (Kewdale, WA) though it’s just 8km from Perth CBD. Ridiculous! I miss youtube, netflix & my playstation plus but what I really miss is the convenience of the quick information throughout the web specially for DIY home improvement stuff. I guess I just gotta have to earn to live without internet for God knows how long. I’ll just send you guys as smoke signal.

  4. John Prosser says:

    Who are we kidding!
    Come & live in Cairns & see how as the NBN approaches the rest of Northern Queensland gets Nothing!!

  5. pete says:

    a major solar flare might affect your mighty web a wee bit never forget the past might need those skills again

  6. Don Many says:

    A lot of us are still waiting for NBN. At least in the meantime we still have ADSL. RJ hasn’t got anything at all. Be happy with the things we have instead of complaining about the ‘greener grass’ on the far side of the hill.
    I will be 69 in a few weeks, and I love chatting to people from all over the world. I have friends in nearly every country. We chat about the differences in our cultures and what the countries are like to live in.
    I would be lost without that.
    I also do most of my banking on line.

  7. That was a good article. Unfortunately much of what was mentioned is a real life horror story for my family. We live in a modern estate a mere 25km from the Brisbane CBD and cannot receive ADSL Broadband because Telstra is not willing to update the exchange in our area. It has been like this for 13 years. We created a Facebook Page https://web.facebook.com/NBN.Redlands to gain support. No amount of pressure by many people have been able to get Telstra or the Government to act. Australia is currently ranked 44th in the world for Internet Speed and Quality.

  8. Matthew says:

    Google and the instantaneous access to online services (car reg, paying the ISP bill etc) may have “saved years of people’s time”, but what have we replaced it with? Cat videos? Selfies? Food blogging via twitter? There are still 24 hours in a day, and I think we may have forgotten the purpose of technology to assist us, not to control our behaviour.
    Douglas Adams wrote back in the 70s that “humans thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea”. I wonder what will make smartphones look like digital watches in a decade’s time? Will it improve productivity or provide yet more distractions?
    Now I’m back to the computer and my internet connection to get on with my day’s work, hopefully without the distractions…

  9. Don Munro says:

    Yes, but it also needs some serious improvement, not just to speed it up, but to vastly improve security. It’s bizarre that military and financial and personal information is stolen or corrupted in vast amounts every day. This could be the internet’s downfall. A special Nobel prize for someone who can invent a way of making it secure!

  10. Emma Crofts says:

    How ironic that iiNet send me their monthly newsletter (which I had to wait until I was at work to open, since my internet at home is too slow) and one of the topics was how life without the internet is the ultimate horror story. Yeah, been living it all month, but thanks for the reminder iiNet. When you get a chance, maybe reply to my e-mails that I’ve been sending for the past 4 weeks about my satellite service.

  11. Di says:

    Without the internet I would be free. I wouldn’t have to buy expensive sports clothing to go for a run or buy a $1000 bike to keep fit. I would talk face to face with all my family at meal times. We would play scrabble on the kitchen table. I would not have to be concerned about security that is out of my hands. I would not be bombarded with ads about the last thing I googled. I would go out more. I would go to the library.I would buy a book. I would walk around the supermarket. I would touch and feel and have a good look at what I was spending my money on. I would be more artistic. I would hand write a letter and walk to the post office. Yes..I miss it all. And no I won’t become addicted. I already see the signs of OCD creeping through my flatten fingertips.

  12. JT says:

    Your article is one of the best I’ve read and certainly thought-provoking. I am 60+ and embraced the internet when it first emerged 25 years ago in the workplace and in homes. It was tech-heaven and emails allowed me to communicate virtually in an instant with my family overseas, which is still the best lollipop for me and looking up anything at all on Google is a constant gift. Without this, we’d be cut off in so many ways and it would indeed be like the lights went out! We literally experienced this when hit by a cyclonic storm in our region 6 months ago. Our power was out for a week but many still remain without basic infrastructure. However, we very quickly came back to basics and learned that our skills at ground level were vital and that together, as a community, we need to work through the difficulties to repair the damage. This was a great reminder about balance in life!

  13. Irish says:

    Can’t live without it or being forced to live with it? Because of the internet;
    many businesses will not accept cash or cheques, forcing long time customers who don’t have or wish to use the internet to go elsewhere. Many businesses, including internet providers taking their businesses overseas causing job losses. Social media being used as big brother & destroying lives. May be convenient in many ways but (my own pet hate) many businesses, including internet providers, overseas & long distance businesses, with websites but the only way they will communicate is by phone.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I bought a block in Gelorup which is a suburb of Bunbury / Capel. WA.
    Telstra, years ago put in a certain amount of Ports. Those are now used up. So no-one else can get the internet unless you want to buy a portable little modem and pay a fortune.
    Telstra [when contacted] advised that they were not going to put more ports in as the mighty NBN was coming.
    When asked if Gelorup was on the NBN schedule – the answer – NO. Its part of a City and not eligible.
    So caught between a Rock and a Hard place.
    Call your MP I hear. We did. Not a bloody thing they can do.
    Is this 1015 or 2015.
    Who says Telstra isn’t in just for the Money. And how many Million was their profit last financial year.

  15. AMANDA says:

    Just recently moved and no free ports left in my area either. Everything is done by internet these days, very difficult to be without it, unless you want to get ripped off by using mobilenet. Not even out in the middle of nowhere, just suburbia. Poor form by the idiots in charge of the infrastructure.

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