Hooked on the Internet?

What’s the first thing you do when you arise in the morning?

Do you press your computer’s “On” button and let it boot up while you make a bathroom stop and then make your first cuppa? Or do you reach for your smartphone on the night table beside your bed before you even get up?

I’m guilty on both counts. Usually, I do the first rotation, but sometimes I surf the web on my smartphone before I get out of bed. And I know I’m not the only one — in fact, my sweetie is lying in bed now reading Facebook posts on her smartphone, sipping a cup of coffee I made for her.

It’s hard to believe that just 15 or 20 years ago, most of us lived in a “dark” world without the Internet. And, my, how the world has been changed by the Internet in the last decade. Whole professions, indeed, industries have been wiped out by the global system of interconnected computer networks, and even more professions were wiped out by computers themselves. Of course, on the positive side, the Internet has spawned new industries and brought the retail industry into our homes with online shopping and advertising.

Still, some decry how the Internet is changing the sociological structure of the world. They point to the trend of people sitting in their homes in front of computer screens rather than being out there in the “real” world interacting with people — or sitting in a lunchroom at work where nobody talks to each other because they’re all surfing the web on their smartphones. And they are right: communicating with someone online is not the same as chatting with them in a lunchroom or on a park bench. For all you know, the person on the other end of a Messenger chat might be a computer-generated character . . .

Still, I have met some wonderful people over the Internet, and we brought our relationships into the real world. Exhibit A: My late b/f. Exhibit B: My current g/f. And several other people before them.

But this question popped up in my head this morning before I clicked onto the web: What if someone pulled the plug, figuratively speaking, on it all, and the Internet was down for good? What if terrorists, or some young hacker, destroyed the infrastructure?

There is a commercial on TV that shows four young people, all carrying smartphones, approaching the edge of a forest area, presumably a provincial or state park. At the beginning of a trail, one of them comments that she has just lost her Internet connection. The other three all nod: yes, they have lost their connections, too. They stop, looking helpless. “Want to head back?” the girl asks the other three. “Yes,” comes the simultaneous reply. And they retreat . . .

Many of us — almost 3 billion people around the world — are addicted to the Internet. I see young people walking down bustling, vibrant Ste-Catherine St. in Montreal with their eyes focused on smartphones. They are hooked on Twitter chatter, Facebook and the like. Young guys aren’t looking at beautiful women strolling down the street; they’re looking at characters in a Twitter feed or the like.

What might life be like for us if the Internet goes down permanently?

Personally, I would miss this: the ability to write blog posts. I love that I can write a post and it is being read around the world seconds later. And I love that you can respond to it, and we can exchange ideas, pleasantries etc. I would also miss the ability to be able to send emails. I would miss the research capabilities.

But — and this might sound surprising coming from a news person — I wouldn’t miss the news part of it all. Sometimes I can only take so much of the news. I don’t want to see headlines about, for example, the atrocities of ISIS every time I click into my Yahoo email account or on a google page. But you can’t avoid them if you are online. I would be happy to get my news from TV, print newspapers, and the radio — like we did in days of old. Yes, I like to be informed, but too much news can be a distraction. It can be upsetting. You know what they say: no news is good news.

Is it just me? Or will there come a time when our fascination with the Internet will fade, and we’ll click out most of the time and only tune in for the news at 6 and 11, and to check our emails, and write blog posts . . . and moderate the comments to them.

Speaking of which . . . What say you?

****

Good morning, everybody! It is a bright, sunshiny day in these parts. Time to click out of the Internet, turn off my laptop and head outside. (Don’t worry. I’ll have my smartphone with me and can moderate your comments with that . . . smiles . . .)

— Jillian

2 thoughts on “Hooked on the Internet?

  1. My morning begins with two injections and a fistfull of pills. I do not look forward to getting out of bed. then power up the PC and go down to make something for breakfast.

    The internet actually did break a few years ago. There was a bug in the DNS system that would have allowed a hacker to redirect any website to anywhere they wanted. The fix required all DNS servers to install new software and reboot. So, for a few minutes the whole internet was down. And no one noticed.

    The internet was designed by DARPA to withstand a nuclear attack. If a data packet can’t be delivered through one route, the servers just try another route. Even if a terrorist could break one or two of the fiber cable backbones, there are dozens more to take over the data. Even if a terrorist could destroy one or two of the Commercial Internet Exchange (IXP) centers where a lot of the fiber backbones converge for routing to ISP’s there are dozens more across the globe to take the traffic. A few years ago the IPX in San Jose went offline when a backhoe cut through their fiber cables. It took three days to fix it and all the internet users noticed was a slowdown in the net.

    Even if they tried to take out GoDaddy’s massive server farm in Arizona which hosts half of the websites in the US, GoDaddy has a few mirror sites around the country. You couldn’t even shut down Google who has 12 data center installations in the United States, with another three under construction. In Europe, Google is known to have equipment in at least five locations, with new data centers being built in two other venues. google data centers are also mostly “off the grid”, generating their own power.

    You seem to be fixated on terrorists. Which is what the Right Wing wants – fear is their product. But you are unlikely to wake up to a world without Internet.

    Of course, after seeing the view from your living room, I can’t imagine anywhere else I would like to be unconnected for a while.

    Like

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