My psychology professor posed a question for the class: What would you do if the Internet went down? Below is my response, but I’m interested in what you guys, the readers, think. What would you do?
interwebs$ sudo shutdown -h now ▮
After the initial Five Stages of Grief associated with losing something cherished, what would my life be like once I’ve accepted that I will never use the internet again? Well, let’s step back for a moment. What do I use the Internet for, right now? Typically I get up every morning, check my email, the news, and visit my “free money” sites. I’m not joined at the hip to a Facebook account, I don’t aggressively play any MMO and couldn’t care less about the latest cat video sweeping Reddit.
So it sounds like I just use the Internet as a means to stay connected with the environment around me. Okay. Well the internet is not the only medium through which I can do that. Despite the fact that phones have evolved to a stage where it’s like carrying a small computer in your pocket, they still have that primitive feature of being able to carry a voice over a long distance network. So communication with important people: check. In a world without the Internet, newspaper circulation would see a sudden surge now that I can’t read about cataclysmic world events on a Twitter feed. General awareness: check. So it looks like I don’t absolutely need the Internet and can live without it (Hey how do the Amish do it?)
Come to think of it, my private life wouldn’t take any interesting turn when the Internet dies. I’ll replace the small amount of entertainment it offered me with more frequent trips to the library and maybe start watching TV again. I’ll have to get more comfortable talking with people face-to-face, since I can no longer hide behind the veil of anonymity. I’ll have to keep a journal to write in instead of posting to my blog. I think the worst possible thing that could happen is a change in career path (I’m studying computer engineering, otherwise known as a dying art in this apocalyptic world).
What I’m really worried about is the global implication of such a change. In that instant, giant companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo will be destroyed and thousands (possibly millions) will be unemployed when the Internet is irrevocably unplugged. The status of computers might return to its mid-2oth century level (anyone remember the ENIAC?). And we’ll see the return of the sneaker network. Sneaker network? How did people transfer data back in the day? You copied it to a magnetic tape and walked over to the other guy’s computer in your sneakers. Yeah, hahaha.
Without the Internet to disseminate information and software, we may see stagnation when it comes to advances in the field of computer science. Who needs more than a basic computer that runs word processing software, if you can’t use the Internet? On the bright side, with global communication so much more difficult, we might finally stop outsourcing people. 🙂