< SWITCH ME >

Imagine you wake up tomorrow and face a world that is nothing like today. No, I'm not talking about an alien attack on the planet or a natural disaster that has devastated the country. I'm talking about another scenario, but one that might be just as life changing: what if we woke up tomorrow and the internet had vanished? Read on to discover how life in Europe would be without the world wide web. Would you survive at all? Prepare yourself for a wake up call...

Information

360px-Neon_Internet_Cafe_open_24_hours
Image: Justinc (CC BY-SA-2.0)
Do you realise just how hooked you are?

Let's say you've got a paper to submit in a few weeks. It's a history paper dealing with the Berlin Wall. And you don't live in Berlin. How do you find information for your paper? Well, you think to yourself, I'll just have a look at what it says on Wikipedia... Oh. No. Well, you think to yourself, I can go to the library, I can find a book there and get just as much knowledge about the Berlin Wall there as I can find on the internet. Well, the search database in your library is internet based, so you'll have to look over many, many lists of books before you found anything useful. Hm, what to do now? Once you've spent the better half of a year browsing different books on the subject and finally completed your paper, you can send the whole thing to your professor... By snail mail, or perhaps delivering it in person. Checking where to deliver it, and what the deadline is again, is a whole other story – the internet breaking down could mean disastrous things for your education! On the other hand, perhaps opening a book and for once sourcing something other than Wikipedia could make your professor a very happy man. Might be worth trying one day...

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Image: Tango! (PD)
Perhaps the scariest icon in the world.

Entertainment

Did you know that youtube only last year celebrated its fifth anniversary? When I heard that, I thought to myself, "My god, how did I procrastinate back then?" - well, in an imagined world where no internet exists, not only Youtube, but Tumblr, and, God forbid, E&M, would cease to exist. The internet as a source of entertainment has changed the world in terms of availability and supply – in our world, people can entertain themselves with anything at any time. But perhaps the breakdown of the internet wouldn't be an entirely bad thing for entertainment-starved people – instead of playing Wordfeud, we would gather for a good old game of Scrabble, and instead of filling ourselves with random sitcoms and music videos 24/7, the trusty old radio play would be revived. This summer, I travelled to the countryside with some friends – we camped in the woods and told each other scary stories all night, and I didn't miss the internet for one minute while I was there. But then again, as soon as I was back in the city, I got right back into the old habit of living bathed in the artificial light of a computer screen.

Do you like this? DO YOU?! 

What if facebook once again became a word that meant what it once did to some of us – a facebook from your senior highschool year? For many young people, myself included, perhaps the most ground-breaking change if the internet broke down would be the void that social media would leave. While many people criticise the impact websites like facebook has had on our social interaction, the reality is that it now represents a very large part of our contact with our friends, relatives, and aquaintances. The way we share content from our lives, our feelings and what we do would be very different in a world without internet. You can almost imagine hordes of attention-starved teenagers running around the streets, shoving pictures of themselves in people's faces and yelling: "Do you like this? DO YOU?!"

What if facebook once again became a word that meant what it once did - a facebook from your senior highschool year?

Then again, the internet breaking down would perhaps not mean the end of social life, and perhaps it would even be beneficial for our interaction with each other. How many people do you consider your real friends offline? Now count the number of friends you have on facebook. My guess is that while they are all labelled your "friends" on facebook, many of the people you share your life with online are people that you have not spoken to in person for quite some time. Maybe shutting down your computer, going outside and talking to a real human being rather than a screen would not mean the end of your social life.

Going offline in an online world

Perhaps you think I'm mad for suggesting, in an article published by an online magazine, that you could benefit from going offline once in a while. Perhaps you think that I'm a hippie who resents technological development and the advantages that it has given our lives. Perhaps you are right – nevertheless, I would recommend, just sometimes, that you log off, shut down, and go outside: look at real people, have real conversations, breathe fresh air – I hear it's good for you to do that. Then again, it might just be something I read somewhere online...

Thumbnail photo: NASA (PD)

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