The Internet has changed our lives and I have written many articles about it. My articles on this blog discuss all different kinds of topics on how the web has changed our lives including how much time we spend online, running our entire lives online, and if it has made our lives better or worse. For all of the praise that the Web gets, it is not without its downfalls. Life usually goes only forward and once we gained the Internet, we could never go back. The Web has changed our lives for sure. What would happen if we ever went off-line? What would we do if we lost the Web forever and never got it back? That is the focus of this article.
How the Internet Took Over Our Lives
Just like with any other innovation in life, the Web was something that was a long time coming. Usually innovations come incrementally over the years because they take time to develop and go through several stages and phases. The first version of anything is typically very primitive and is something that is mostly a prototype that shows potential.
After several iterations of refining something, does it become mature enough to actually be mass-adopted. This is how the Web was built. I talked about how we had modems in the 90s and how that started for things to come later in life.
As the cost of using the Internet dropped along with increasing speeds, we saw how more and more people were going online. Couple these two factors plus the advent of the smartphone and you have the perfect recipe of a new addiction, being online 24/7.
At this point, the Internet was not just something that we used everyday. We became the Web. We are constantly consuming and producing new content for the Internet everyday. With everything changing everyday, we have to go online just to keep with what is going on in life.
Then we had the whole world close down in the past two years. What if the Web did not exist when this happened? Would we have survived the closure? Our dependance on the Web might have been the reason why we were able to weather a very long and uncertain storm.
The next section will discuss how the Web saved us during the two year closure and what might have happened if we did not have the Internet during this time.
What the Two Year Closure Taught Us
Setting the Web aside just for a moment, I want to just speak in general. During this time, we went through something many people had never experienced, myself included. That was a really weird time that seemed like something that you would see in a movie. You watch movies because they have a story that is extremely entertaining since it is highly exaggerated and dramaticized.
This is what makes watching movies fun because of the stories and characters. Who would have ever thought that it would actually happen to us in real life? Major events have happened in the past and I supposed that this was our time.
I just wanted to add my quick two cents on this whole topic, back to talking about the closure and its relationship to the Web.
Our Over-reliance on the Web Increased
We were already really entrenched in the Web. The closures just “exacerbated” it. The placed quote around the exacerbate because the Web is a double-edged sword. We need the Web to do stuff but we also waste a lot of time on it also. I think that we just have to make sure that we use the Web to be productive and have those times where it is used recreationally and leisurely. We just need to balance using the Web for work and play.
Doing Everything Online Kept the Country Alive
When everything closed down, we had no one where to go. We were literally stuck at home for a long time. We could not see anyone either. Our daily lives just stopped and we had no idea what to do. Of course, we did have that one thing that has always been there for us. The only thing that we practically spend every second on, the Web.
So we were just like, “We have nowhere to go, no one to see, we still have the Web”. So here we were, having to use the Web even more than usual because the closures disrupted our lives so much. As far as needing to maintain our sanity during a time of extreme uncertainty, the Web might have just saved us. What else could we have done during this time whittling away at home?
I mean, there is literally nothing else to do when you are stuck at home all day. Without the Internet, things would have been a lot worse. We were at least still able to get things done thanks to the Web. We could still be productive as much as we could as we navigated during this time. Without it, we would have plunged even deeper down a rabbit hole that would have made it harder to get out of.
What If the Web Did Not Exist During the Closures?
Without the Web, we would have not been able to stave off the detrimental effects of the closures. The reason why is because there would be no way for us to do anything while at home. The ability to do things remotely from far away is what kept the painful losses to a minimum.
This is why we have so much to thank for having the Web.
Could We Ever Go Back Before the Web?
So we now understand how important the Web was during the closures. What if the Web were to just disappear and never come back. Would we be able to cope without it? I will talk about if we could ever return to life before the Internet existed.
The Population Has Grown So Much, Going Back Will Not Work
There is a correlation between the growth in population and Internet usage. What we know is that doing stuff remotely has relieved a lot of pressure associated with having to do the exact same things in-person. This has made life more convenient and fast. Just think about buying something off Amazon compared to actually going to the store.
Doing stuff online means less people drive out there. This means less people are physically occupying space in a store. This matters because with increasing population means more bodies taking up space somewhere. If we can do more things online, we reduce the amount and time and space doing stuff in-person requires.
Everything Will Be Slower and Done In-Person
The last section focused more on scattering the population so that everyone is able to do stuff without having to crowd a single area. That is what things used to be like before the Internet. Let us talk more about the speed at which these things happen.
When everyone has to do things in-person, everything is slower. Like I said, you have to drive more and have to stand in line at places. Why do we still do this even if we have the Web to buy stuff from?
There are reasons why we still do things the old way even with the Internet. The thing is that we cannot do every single thing at home. This is more about having options available, which we did not have before the Web. Before the Web, we had no choice but to drive to stores and stand in long lines. There was no Web and therefore no other alternative.
The problem is that without the Web, we no longer have options of where we want to buy things from and have to return to the way it was before. At least from what I remember, if you were looking for something, you might have had to travel to many stores to find it. Now, we just check online if it has it, we buy it.
There are some benefits of going to the store like we have been before the Web. It is nice to just buy something in-person and actually see it and know if we like it or not. It is also nice to buy something and bring it home on the same day. Shipping is a reason why buying something online can be very concerning. This is why Amazon Prime is nice to have in this case. With Prime, you get your stuff faster like you just got it from the store.
Are Devices Without Internet Access Useless?
What would today’s devices be like without the Web? Would they even be useful anymore? Imagine having to revert back to getting information from CDs again. Remember those days? Where we had to install programs and load data via CD drives? Before the Internet, we only had whatever data we could load from a disc.
This is how we were able to share and distribute data before the Internet. One problem is that data obsoletes very quickly and distributing data via physical drives means that data travels slower and does not have the reach that it does today. So this makes it harder to revert back to life before the Internet.
Could Physical Print Make a Comeback?
I wrote an article about how we used to be a print society. Could we ever go back? I always kind of wonder even after writing so many articles on this blog, if we could ever return to the past. One thing that I think about is how we had the infrastructure to support physical print. We used to have machines that could print newspapers and magazines at a really fast rate.
When everything went digital, the need to mass produce physical print diminished. This is the reason why we cannot revert back so simple. If the Internet disappeared and we had to print again, just the cost of having to bring back all of that equipment is expensive. Some of the larger machines in a printing press take up a lot of space. Plus ink is costly. So there are a lot of issues with going back.
Consider also that physical print does not have the same reach as the Web does. So this means a larger percentage of the populace will not receive information as fast or as equally if we have to use physical print.
Would We Become Patient?
Demanding instantaneous results means that it has become an expectation. Websites should load fast so that we get out information as quickly as possible. I highly doubt that society could return to being patient again. Why? Mostly because life has gotten so fast and complicated. The over-reliance on the Web has ensured our fate as constantly and increasingly demanding instant gratification.
How Do We Cope With the Loss of Instant Information?
I do not really think that society could handle the loss of instant information. Especially since we use our phones all of the time, everywhere. One good example is GPS. Just think of how hard it would be to drive to new places without a map telling you where to go. Without GPS, we would get lost a lot more and waste gas traveling in circles.
This is just one of the many decisions we have to make everyday. Without instantaneous information, decisions would take longer to make and cause us to fall behind in time.
The loss of the Internet can be devastating. Thanks to the Web, we were able to pull through our recent two year closure. It was a tough time but we made it.
Thinking about the Web some more, I wonder if we could ever return to the life before it. Considering how deeply entrenched we are already in our lives, I highly doubt. The loss of the Internet would cause another global catastrophic event and we just finished our recent one. Maybe then it is better that we keep the Internet in that case.