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Could You Give Up the Internet?

I picked up a book at the library that I was pretty certain I would need to own a penis to enjoy (note: own a penis; not borrow a penis), so I was pleasantly surprised to find Notes from the Internet Apocalypse thin but readable.  Fine, it was very thin, like a story stretched over one of those pot-holder looms, though it probably would have felt thicker (no pun intended) if I had something between my legs.  If I was the sort of person who spent time on 4Chan or looking at Internet porn.  Like the boy recently in the library who unabashedly continued to look at Internet porn even while I was standing behind him, trying to look through the M section in general fiction.  He would likely love this book.

But — again — it is readable, and even somewhat enjoyable, if you know the sites mentioned.  Which you will: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.

Of course, you should also have a heads up that there is a recurrent pregnancy loss plot point.  Not exactly what I was expecting amid all the discussion of porn.  But there you go.

The basic set-up for the book is that the Internet has gone down completely.  No one know why the world is offline, but it comes down to no websites, no email, no social media.  The book starts with a description of what happens to all of us when we go through Internet withdrawal, and then sharply veers into an Internet whodunit of trying to figure out what took out the Internet and whether the rumours are true that there is someone in New York who is still online.

That part was less interesting than wondering whether we could go backwards at this point and return to living offline after burying our faces in the warm bosom of the Internet.

Unplugging for a set amount of time — eg. not checking email or Facebook while on vacation — is very different from the Internet being offline.  In one case, you’ve removed yourself from the Internet, and in the other, the Internet has removed itself from you.  Sort of the same thing as being the dumper or the dumpee in a relationship.  Either way, the relationship is over, but one scenario has you in control and the other does not.

I don’t want to get dumped by the Internet.

It would be very difficult to go backwards at this point.  Give up a site, sure?  I could close my Facebook account and be fine.  I could leave Twitter and not miss it.  But blogs?  I start hyperventilating when I think about not reading blogs anymore.  I could still write my blog — it would be like keeping every entry in draft form — but to not be able to read anyone else’s blog?

I’ve been spoiled by the immediacy of the Internet.  I send an email, and I expect a reply in a short amount of time.  I have a question, and I Google for the answer.  I get handed the name of a song or the name of a familiar-looking actor in a television show via apps on my phone.  I take a photo and my sister can have it 15 seconds later.  Could she still have the photo without the Internet?  Sure, if I go to the store, print it out, go to the post office, mail it to her, and have her wait three days.

I couldn’t have books instantly or music instantly or movies instantly.  I couldn’t play games or check up on friends or see someone while I speak to them long-distance.

Obviously, if the Internet dumps us, we will have to continue on without it, fondly remembering our time together.  But it will hurt.  It will hurt a lot.  My heart would be broken.

Could you live without the Internet?


1 a { 08.26.14 at 8:35 am }

I would really miss the instant access to information and directions. But the entertainment aspect? I could manage, I think. Can I still text? If so, I think I’m good. If not…well, I’m not particularly enjoying other people right now anyway.

2 Valery { 08.26.14 at 9:12 am }

If there had been no internet/ ALI community between 2009-2012 I’m not sure my relationship would have survived or my DE daughter would have been created.
But now? I don’t use twitter or facebook, just the blogs. I would miss you. i would write a paper diary. I would write paper letters to the people I have addresses from.
I already read a paper newspaper.
I could even do without my mobile phone.
I’m lucky that my mother is close enough to hop on my bike and go over for a cup of tea and a chat.
(And I doubt that just owning a penis is enough to alter your brain chemistry enough to change your preferences, I’m afraid you need two more dangly bits 😉 )

3 Valery { 08.26.14 at 9:26 am }

From a professional point of view it would be very interesting: would my company still use IT people in India?
If we weren’t investing huge money in faster internet for our customers what would we do? Less jobs? More jobs? different jobs for sure…

4 Keiko { 08.26.14 at 10:04 am }

Nope. Not for a second.

5 SuzannaCatherine { 08.26.14 at 10:17 am }

I could manage as long as texting, blogs and the financial (banking) system was up and running. Otherwise, no. Without those I think we would revert to something like the mid-30s – and we all know how that ened.

6 gradualchanges { 08.26.14 at 10:50 am }

Sure we use the internet to waste LOADS of time but we also use it for integral things too and losing the internet would certainly set us back further than just before we had it. As for replacing the blogs, maybe we could all write in diaries and mail them around like chain letters?

7 Sharon { 08.26.14 at 11:07 am }

Considering I DID live without the internet for the first half of my life, I am sure I COULD live without it now, if I had to. But it would make several things in my life far less convenient.

8 nicoleandmaggie { 08.26.14 at 1:28 pm }

If nobody had the internet, I’d be ok. I’m old enough to remember what life was like before the internet. I would be able to pick up the phone again and use the phone book, and teach other people how to use things like dictionaries and thesauruses and maps. I think we even have an encarta cd that still works.

If it were just me, I’d be at a severe disadvantage work-wise. That would be very bad.

9 Tiara { 08.26.14 at 2:04 pm }

Could I? Absolutely…but I don’t want to, at least not if others have it. If there wasn’t any internet at all for anyone then I’d adapt pretty quickly.

10 andy { 08.26.14 at 2:10 pm }

I didn’t even manage a 10 day vacation that was supposed to be internet free 🙁

We went to visit my mom, who only just got cable for the first time 2 years ago and still can’t work her answering machine. She does not have a computer, cell phone or internet. So we didn’t plan on accessing it while we were away. But of course we still had ipods/tablets with us for music, books, games in the car. Within 48 hours Liam and I were hanging out at the mall’s food court so we could pick up free WI-FI and check in.

Vacation fail!

11 Jill A. { 08.26.14 at 7:33 pm }

Like some of you above, I have lived most of my life without a computer and the internet. I can think of two things right off the bat I would need to do. One – buy a new encyclopedia set. All of mine were lost in a small house fire we had last year and I haven’t replaced any. Two – OMG! I would have to get glasses! Bi-focals! I LOVE being able to set the font size! I love not dealing with glasses! Thinking about training myself to remember where my glasses are makes me want to cry!

12 Persnickety { 08.26.14 at 8:44 pm }

I kind of did for about a year, 10 years ago. Lived in japan. No computer, first place I lived had public free internet area, so used that close to daily. Moved and there was no equivalent. Had my phone, so could text and send shortish emails, played simple games on the phone, took pics sometimes. About once a month cycled to an Internet cafe and caught up on email and banking. Wasn’t terrible, but I suspect I would struggle now. It was easier in japan as despite its high tech rep, daily life is still very lo-fi. After a while, the necessary internet things seem less so. I did discover Harry potter fanfic during that time though, so I did occasionally timewaste on the net.
My job is partially scouring the net for changes to my industry, so I would be unemployed…

13 Mali { 08.26.14 at 9:08 pm }

I could give up the internet. But I don’t want to. It would make me feel very sad and alone and isolated down here at the bottom of the world.

14 loribeth { 08.26.14 at 9:11 pm }

I don’t know if I could. I am certainly old enough to remember life before the Internet, and while I sometimes mourn what’s been lost, there is also plenty that I love. And while some people (my mother & husband) think I am addicted, I know a lot of people whose lives are far more entwined with the Internet & technology than mine.

15 Amel { 08.27.14 at 7:58 am }

I’d be DOOMED without the internet. I have MANY many more online friends compared to IRL friends (my blogger friends have been my saving grace when I was so lonely and isolated in this new country and when I couldn’t speak Finnish well enough yet). Plus I have my family and friends scattered across the world, so without the internet all I can imagine is darkness. Plus I’m now in two Google+ forums where I can talk to other childless-not-by-choice women and they mean a lot to me these days.

It may have been different if I still lived in my own hometown, though. But it is what it is now.

16 JustHeather { 08.28.14 at 2:56 pm }

I don’t think I could…I mean I love being able to look up answers to questions or trivia or silly stuff, but more so, it’s how I keep in contact with my family AND met my husband half a world away! Lke you, I could give up sites and other things, but not the internet itself.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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