For seven days this month, my Internet connection ceased to be; apparently (according to the engineer) because the cable-modem box thingy gave up the ghost. Seven whole days with no link to the outside world, except for the telephone of course, which isn’t quite the same is it? Now normally a very short period without Internet access would not cause too much of a problem; fortunately I can complete most of my work off-line so I saw this as only a minor inconvenience.
However, the big shock to my system came with the realisation that for a period of time during those days I was extremely bored. It was fine while I was working, but afterwards without the Internet to distract me, I had nothing to do for the remainder of any working day. The evenings were fine because I have a very active social life, so no problem, but it did get me thinking about how the absence of the Internet might affect the majority of us in one way or another.
Since the ‘arrival’ of the phenomenon that is known as the Internet, we have become obsessed to some extent with the speed in which it lets us live our lives. We rarely expect to get letters from friends, family or businesses – email is there, ready, waiting and fast. We can visit just about any virtual shop in the world, buy more than we could physically carry and arrange to have it delivered, and all this can be done in just an hour of surfing without even getting out of a chair.
I began to wonder about the vast number of companies whose day-to-day business is conducted online, and what would happen if for some reason the whole Internet suddenly ceased to work. The effects would be extremely far-reaching, for example; a substantial amount of daily business communication is conducted via email, the loss of which would severely disrupt and significantly slow down the companies who rely totally on this media to send and receive information where speed is of the essence. Other parties to be considered are the private individuals whose emails possibly compare or even exceed in numbers that of corporate traffic, and business websites; without these virtual showrooms to look at, a customer would have to revert back to the old way of doing things and visit a real one – very hard on the feet!
We are all aware that the rapid advances made in Internet technology over recent years have been nothing short of astonishing. From mobile phones and their ability to send messages and photo images, as well as being able to access the Internet, to email and its almost instant delivery capability. Both have transformed information exchange and communication beyond our wildest dreams, whilst simultaneously creating a mindset that has us expecting immediate answers to any questions we care to ask. It’s up to each individual to decide for themselves whether or not the Internet is for the better. I am sure there are a vast number of people in the world that prefer life the way it used to be, and their opinions must be respected.
However, to be off-line felt like some sort of isolation even though it was only temporary. It’s not something I would want to happen on a regular basis, and whilst I am sure that although we would undoubtedly cope without the Internet if we had to, the question is – would we want to?
Sure, the simplicity and speed of email would be sorely missed; the comparative ease of online shopping; the click of a mouse to pay the bills; the creature comforts that the Internet provides and what we have quickly grown to accept and expect, would eventually be forgotten or committed to a nostalgic memory, but I sincerely doubt it would be an easy transition.
We are all increasingly reliant on the Internet to make life run a bit smoother – and for me, seven days without it was more than enough to prove that.