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?