Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Down with the Internet?

What would we do without the Internet? 
    Seriously. We get our news, check our email, update our Facebook statuses, look at our horoscopes, find recipes, play video games, chat, search for that song we have stuck in our heads, and a gajillion other things every single day.
    We can even get the web on our cell phones now so we don't have to be away from the Internet while we work or attend school or anything. It's a love affair that's grown to the point of obsession for many. I admit, I don't think I would go very long without it. If I didn't have it at home, I'd be at the library or a computer lab on campus to check in with the many sites I feel obligated to visit daily, or at least weekly.
    If anyone saw the news this week (and it was kind of hard to avoid) about the Internet getting completely shut down in Egypt, your heart should have skipped a beat once the terrifying thought occurred of something like that happening here. Of course, the US is a much larger country than Egypt, and we have more Internet companies and ways to connect than they do, it still is a scary thought for many of us.
    Perhaps people would learn to love their televisions again, without the comforts of streaming Netflix or Hulu or today's headlines on CNN. But as there was in Egypt, I think there would be mass chaos, confusion, and uprising. Give us healthcare, that's one thing. Take away our Internet, we're gonna have words. Something like the loss of the Internet would cause a larger panic and full-on riot than any Stanley Cup playoffs, Super Bowl games, or even, I think, financial crisis could cause.
    We, as Americans, have grown used to instant gratification, and the loss of the greatest resource to achieve that end would create unprecedented amounts of upheaval.
    So, here it comes: are we too attached to this thing that didn't even exist 20 or 30 years ago? There was no Internet, nor did the average household even have a computer in it when I was born 23 years ago. We could get into the cell phone thing as well while we're at it, but I think the American population as a whole would be more distraught over the loss of the Internet than over the loss of cell phones. This is for the simple facts that if we lost phones and still had the Net, we could still Skype and IM and email. And, there would still be landlines in this scenario. But, I digress (which I knew was going to happen even though I really didn't want it to).
    I know that I, for one, am way too attached to the Internet. I check my email upwards of 10 times a day (that's 10 times or more PER ACCOUNT each day); I check the sports stats and scores; I look up words and search for people and places; I read article after article, blog after blog; I check my Facebook religiously too, even though there usually isn't much new content on mine.
    Let's examine this word with regard to Internet usage: religious. Is the Internet the new religion for the 21st century, at least in this country? I don't mean religion in the sense of it being a god, so don't jump down my throat yet. I mean religion in the sense of the Internet being something that we look to for guidance, for information, on not only how to lead our lives, but as a way to actually lead our lives. There are people who become their online identities and spend so much time online that they do not exist in the "real world" except to eat, drink, and otherwise keep their bodies alive and functioning. Now, I'm not saying everyone does this, or even that everyone wants to spend all their time online, but with the Internet available to us, 24 hours a day, every day--literally in the palms of our hands--it has attained the kind of status that an icon, relic, or talisman has. It's something we have to have, not just want to, but have to have, all the time, whenever we might need it.
    And there's no escaping it. You use it at work, you use it for school, you use for so many daily tasks that you used to be able to do or look for elsewhere--in books, from neighbors or friends, even on that not-so-distant relative, the television. While it doesn't look like we'll be losing our Internet connection any time soon, it might be a good idea to take a little break. Just to see how long you can go without it. See if you can really get through your day. I'll see if I can get through mine.
    One last thing, dear readers: it's a pretty safe assumption that should you accomplish this, the sky will not fall, the stars will not fade, and life will go on mostly as it has before.
Food for thought.


Outnumbered said...

Oh lord! When I signed on to cnn this morning there was a ticker that said "government to shut down internet" - no mention of which gov't but I freaked! I tried to rationalize why this would happen and how I would cope and omg it was a good 3 minutes of sweating it out before I realized they were referring to Egypt! Fewf....

And does it not totally blow your mind how few people understand what is happening over there??? Especially with the amount of information available bc of the internet - I had a friend on fb suggest we bomb Egypt...seriously, this has nothing to do with us it's about their citizens being pissed at their government the only thing that affects us is the tourists and reporters from the US over there being caught up in the chaos -- or maybe the internet is to blame for false information?? In which case damn the internet to hell...

Constant Writer said...

I just read today that American journalists are becoming targets of the protesters in there. You make a good point about misinformation, but if that is the case, that is terrifying.

The Jogger said...

The only hit my blog has had from Egypt was during this turmoil.

+Constant Writer

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