What Would You Do If the Internet Died Today?

 

What would you do if the Internet suddenly vanished?

This is a question I asked myself today when I was thinking about how unstable businesses that depend on brick-and-mortar buildings are.

With a physical location you have to worry about rising rent costs and government interference and zoning regulations and arsonists and hailstorms and pipes breaking and electrical shortages and on and on and on.

There are a million and one things conspiring to derail your business and kick you out, forcing you to start all over again.

So what makes us think that the Internet is more defensible?

It’s hard to speculate what could bring down the Net, but it’s not impossible. In fact, as more and more nations and individuals militarize the online world, it seems downright likely that some major online atom bomb will detonate at some point in the near-future.

But instead of hundreds of thousands of people dying, the results will be economic and technological catastrophe.

Think of how much of your life is dependent on the Internet NOT failing; from global and local infrastructures and running your business all the way down to keeping up with friends via Facebook and browsing the news.

What would YOU do?

55 comments

  1. I’d cry. Serious. Almost everything I’m doing right now is heavily dependent on the Internet.

    On the bright side, if the world is still going on as normal, sans the web, I’d may have to start over in retail sales again (considering that there’s zero IT work available).

    It’s either that or going snake-oil on others.

    I’d like to avoid the latter. :)

  2. I’d cry. Serious. Almost everything I’m doing right now is heavily dependent on the Internet.

    On the bright side, if the world is still going on as normal, sans the web, I’d may have to start over in retail sales again (considering that there’s zero IT work available).

    It’s either that or going snake-oil on others.

    I’d like to avoid the latter. :)

  3. I’d cry, too! Yes, life would go on, I’m not dependent on it for anything material, but I would SO miss all the amazing people I have come to know online, and window on a world I cannot physically reach because of my mobility issues. Very scary thought, I’d be much more lonely, and cut off from most of my children to a very real degree ;o(

  4. I’d cry, too! Yes, life would go on, I’m not dependent on it for anything material, but I would SO miss all the amazing people I have come to know online, and window on a world I cannot physically reach because of my mobility issues. Very scary thought, I’d be much more lonely, and cut off from most of my children to a very real degree ;o(

  5. I would kick, scream, cry, rage and be completely depressed… for thirty minutes.

    And then I would go outside to enjoy our beautiful world.

    Internet might be important but nature is way more awesome.

  6. I would kick, scream, cry, rage and be completely depressed… for thirty minutes.

    And then I would go outside to enjoy our beautiful world.

    Internet might be important but nature is way more awesome.

  7. - Pick up the phone
    – Work to get the internet back online

    If both those options were not avaiable:

    – Bartend on a beach somewhere?

  8. - Pick up the phone
    – Work to get the internet back online

    If both those options were not avaiable:

    – Bartend on a beach somewhere?

  9. Very true. Funny how we tend to think whatever is current is permanent.

    I make my living working for an internet marketing company. Fortunately, I understand solid marketing principles that I could take back into the traditional advertising world. I would just have to change mediums…

  10. Very true. Funny how we tend to think whatever is current is permanent.

    I make my living working for an internet marketing company. Fortunately, I understand solid marketing principles that I could take back into the traditional advertising world. I would just have to change mediums…

  11. The business would would be mostly irrelevant so I would finish my studies and probably take a year out working as a deck hand whilst observing the ramifications and planning next steps.

  12. The business would would be mostly irrelevant so I would finish my studies and probably take a year out working as a deck hand whilst observing the ramifications and planning next steps.

  13. A really interesting thought. I think we (I, at least) take the internet as a given, proven, necessity. Like Joel, I work in internet marketing/retail – so literally 100% of my income is dependent on the internet. Maybe it’s a good idea, at least, to consider the possibility, and make sure we’re honing and developing the kind of skills and responsibilities that exist outside of the ‘net.

  14. A really interesting thought. I think we (I, at least) take the internet as a given, proven, necessity. Like Joel, I work in internet marketing/retail – so literally 100% of my income is dependent on the internet. Maybe it’s a good idea, at least, to consider the possibility, and make sure we’re honing and developing the kind of skills and responsibilities that exist outside of the ‘net.

  15. On the plus side, I think the safety in having an Internet-based business lies in the fact that if the Internet did suddenly die, so many peoples’ lives would be affected that they wouldn’t blame you for being out of reach or offline. And if and when the Internet returned, all your customers would likely still be there.

    On the other hand, if you depend on a regular stream of income coming in from the Internet, you might be in trouble. But that’s why you don’t live penny-to-penny. That’s what emergency funds are for: emergencies.

    Another thing to consider are your skills. How many skills do you have right now that would be useful in an Internet-less world? If the answer is zero, you should probably consider developing a few.

    Are you handy with fixing things (houses, cars, computers… somebody is gonna need to get the Net back online)? Are you strong and physically fit (there will always labor jobs, at least until cheap and reliable robots are developed)? Are you great communicator? Idea guy? Inventor?

    Even the skill of picking up new skills would be immensely useful in world without the Internet. Of course, you’d need to remember that there would be no Wikipedia or Google. ;)

  16. On the plus side, I think the safety in having an Internet-based business lies in the fact that if the Internet did suddenly die, so many peoples’ lives would be affected that they wouldn’t blame you for being out of reach or offline. And if and when the Internet returned, all your customers would likely still be there.

    On the other hand, if you depend on a regular stream of income coming in from the Internet, you might be in trouble. But that’s why you don’t live penny-to-penny. That’s what emergency funds are for: emergencies.

    Another thing to consider are your skills. How many skills do you have right now that would be useful in an Internet-less world? If the answer is zero, you should probably consider developing a few.

    Are you handy with fixing things (houses, cars, computers… somebody is gonna need to get the Net back online)? Are you strong and physically fit (there will always labor jobs, at least until cheap and reliable robots are developed)? Are you great communicator? Idea guy? Inventor?

    Even the skill of picking up new skills would be immensely useful in world without the Internet. Of course, you’d need to remember that there would be no Wikipedia or Google. ;)

  17. “With a physical location you have to worry about rising rent costs and government interference and zoning regulations and arsonists and hailstorms and pipes breaking and electrical shortages and on and on and on.”

    Just because work is done online doesn’t mean that these don’t have a major impact on the internet. They do although we don’t often observe them as directly as a brick-and-mortar business and it’s too easy to forget that they do have major impacts on the web.

    No government interference, that’s far cry from reality on the web.

  18. “With a physical location you have to worry about rising rent costs and government interference and zoning regulations and arsonists and hailstorms and pipes breaking and electrical shortages and on and on and on.”

    Just because work is done online doesn’t mean that these don’t have a major impact on the internet. They do although we don’t often observe them as directly as a brick-and-mortar business and it’s too easy to forget that they do have major impacts on the web.

    No government interference, that’s far cry from reality on the web.

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  20. Actually, the whole thing was conceived in the first place as a way to communicate in the event of a nuclear war. As a result I think it would take something pretty spectacular to bring the net down.

    If the net were to disappear, I think whatever caused it would probably take most of us with it too so it’s probably not worth worrying about!

  21. Actually, the whole thing was conceived in the first place as a way to communicate in the event of a nuclear war. As a result I think it would take something pretty spectacular to bring the net down.

    If the net were to disappear, I think whatever caused it would probably take most of us with it too so it’s probably not worth worrying about!

  22. Well, seeing as I kinda sorta maybe don’t need the Internet to survive, I think I’ll be okay.
    *You might want to ignore the rest because it is babble.*
    I have books to read, stories to make up, French to learn.
    My computer is still working though, right? Because if not, then I’d be almost screwed, seeing as I type my stories instead of hand-writing them, and I also need the computer to learn French.
    But I suppose I can hand-write, and I do have the French textbook… And I don’t object to spending a whole day reading, since I’ve done it before, but then I’d run out of books…

  23. Well, seeing as I kinda sorta maybe don’t need the Internet to survive, I think I’ll be okay.
    *You might want to ignore the rest because it is babble.*
    I have books to read, stories to make up, French to learn.
    My computer is still working though, right? Because if not, then I’d be almost screwed, seeing as I type my stories instead of hand-writing them, and I also need the computer to learn French.
    But I suppose I can hand-write, and I do have the French textbook… And I don’t object to spending a whole day reading, since I’ve done it before, but then I’d run out of books…

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  25. The internet, like anything else, is a tool. A social tool that gives us an opportunity to build amazing relationships. I believe that is it’s ultimate purpose.

    Without it, those relationships are still there. As is the opportunity to continue building more.

  26. The internet, like anything else, is a tool. A social tool that gives us an opportunity to build amazing relationships. I believe that is it’s ultimate purpose.

    Without it, those relationships are still there. As is the opportunity to continue building more.

  27. Call instead of FB message, paint, take long walks again. I think I might actually frequent the library too. And not being as fortunate as Joel (knowing how to transition to traditional marketing) I might actually get a job somewhere.

  28. Call instead of FB message, paint, take long walks again. I think I might actually frequent the library too. And not being as fortunate as Joel (knowing how to transition to traditional marketing) I might actually get a job somewhere.

  29. Wouldnt mind it crashing for a week right now! I need to fix my addiction.

    Other than that, life would become more expensive somewhat [back to newspapers and calls and the library]… I have come to rely on the internet for news, research and general info.

  30. Wow! Lots of great responses. I figure I should answer as well, since I’ve had some time to think about it.

    It’s true that the Internet is just a tool, and like any tool you get out of it what you put into it. The real problem in my mind is that – should something so catastrophic happen – many of the relationships we have ONLY exist online. It’s nice to think that we’d be able to reconnect with other people over the phone, but how many of your online friends have you met in person? Do you have their phone numbers (or they yours..Skype doesn’t count)?

    Personally, I’d lose a huge chunk of the people I’ve come to know well because I haven’t met them in real life and the only way we’re able to stay in touch is because of the net. That would be a big loss for me, and hunting them all down again would take quite some time.

    Business-wise, I can’t help but see everything as an opportunity, and I think a big event like that lead to a lot of chances to rebuild the Internets infrastructure even better, not to mention coming up with ways to keep people in touch in the interim. I feel like I have a diverse enough skill set, too, that it can be applied across most fields.

    The sheer mass of personal information, photos, writings, etc that I have online would be gone. This would be a big hit, if none of it could be retrieved, and I think most people underestimate how much of their possessions are actually just data that, if wiped, would leave no trace. Frankly, I couldn’t begin to track down all the investment I have in ‘the cloud,’ and realizing this makes me a little uncomfortable. I do have more faith in the backup systems and security of the digital world than the real world (which at this point is a lot more insecure, especially for something as fragile as a hard drive), but perhaps it’s time to make sure that my important data is backed up in more than one place.

    It’s amazing how many people who commented have touched on the fact that they would spend more time outdoors, writing by hand, going to the library, etc. There’s a lesson here, I think, and we should remember that we are NOT owned by the online world. It’s great to have, and we all benefit greatly because of its existence, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get away.

    Maybe set aside one day a week where you don’t get online at all? Take that time to reconnect with things that you don’t do anymore, because there definitely seems to be a longing for them, we just don’t have the justification to DO them.

    Keep the great comments coming, folks. This is the good stuff.

  31. Wouldnt mind it crashing for a week right now! I need to fix my addiction.

    Other than that, life would become more expensive somewhat [back to newspapers and calls and the library]… I have come to rely on the internet for news, research and general info.

  32. Wow! Lots of great responses. I figure I should answer as well, since I’ve had some time to think about it.

    It’s true that the Internet is just a tool, and like any tool you get out of it what you put into it. The real problem in my mind is that – should something so catastrophic happen – many of the relationships we have ONLY exist online. It’s nice to think that we’d be able to reconnect with other people over the phone, but how many of your online friends have you met in person? Do you have their phone numbers (or they yours..Skype doesn’t count)?

    Personally, I’d lose a huge chunk of the people I’ve come to know well because I haven’t met them in real life and the only way we’re able to stay in touch is because of the net. That would be a big loss for me, and hunting them all down again would take quite some time.

    Business-wise, I can’t help but see everything as an opportunity, and I think a big event like that lead to a lot of chances to rebuild the Internets infrastructure even better, not to mention coming up with ways to keep people in touch in the interim. I feel like I have a diverse enough skill set, too, that it can be applied across most fields.

    The sheer mass of personal information, photos, writings, etc that I have online would be gone. This would be a big hit, if none of it could be retrieved, and I think most people underestimate how much of their possessions are actually just data that, if wiped, would leave no trace. Frankly, I couldn’t begin to track down all the investment I have in ‘the cloud,’ and realizing this makes me a little uncomfortable. I do have more faith in the backup systems and security of the digital world than the real world (which at this point is a lot more insecure, especially for something as fragile as a hard drive), but perhaps it’s time to make sure that my important data is backed up in more than one place.

    It’s amazing how many people who commented have touched on the fact that they would spend more time outdoors, writing by hand, going to the library, etc. There’s a lesson here, I think, and we should remember that we are NOT owned by the online world. It’s great to have, and we all benefit greatly because of its existence, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get away.

    Maybe set aside one day a week where you don’t get online at all? Take that time to reconnect with things that you don’t do anymore, because there definitely seems to be a longing for them, we just don’t have the justification to DO them.

    Keep the great comments coming, folks. This is the good stuff.

  33. For me it’s all about community. With the internet available to almost everyone, you’re forced there to connect with communities and as a result, your local real life ones tend to suffer (they do for me anyway!). If the internet died, people would be forced once again to maintain real communities local to where they live – and these are important because they impact on real living (crime and so forth). These communities are by their very nature less ephemeral than their online counterparts and as such I value them more.

    So, I’d love for the internet to die… permanently!

  34. For me it’s all about community. With the internet available to almost everyone, you’re forced there to connect with communities and as a result, your local real life ones tend to suffer (they do for me anyway!). If the internet died, people would be forced once again to maintain real communities local to where they live – and these are important because they impact on real living (crime and so forth). These communities are by their very nature less ephemeral than their online counterparts and as such I value them more.

    So, I’d love for the internet to die… permanently!

  35. If it’s the weekend, go swimming and then come back later to check on it again. Still down? Go swimming and come back later to check on it again.

    In fact, I think I’ll act like the internet is down right now!

    (Seriously, it would be very bad for the internet to go down….)

  36. If it’s the weekend, go swimming and then come back later to check on it again. Still down? Go swimming and come back later to check on it again.

    In fact, I think I’ll act like the internet is down right now!

    (Seriously, it would be very bad for the internet to go down….)

  37. If the internet went down, I don’t think that it would be much different from an atomic bomb and people would surely die as a result. For example, aid agencies would be delayed in delivering aid and companies would have to stop or drastically slow down the production of essential goods if their systems were to be significantly disrupted. And as you mention, millions of connections would vanish, virtually up-ending the lives of countless people.

    I’m not sure there would be anything else to do but wait patiently for the storm to pass and see where we all land.

  38. If the internet went down, I don’t think that it would be much different from an atomic bomb and people would surely die as a result. For example, aid agencies would be delayed in delivering aid and companies would have to stop or drastically slow down the production of essential goods if their systems were to be significantly disrupted. And as you mention, millions of connections would vanish, virtually up-ending the lives of countless people.

    I’m not sure there would be anything else to do but wait patiently for the storm to pass and see where we all land.

  39. I have the contact numbers of people who mean the most to me. If I don’t have some, it’s nothing a couple of calls can’t settle. :) I write letters and postcards on a regular basis (it’s just a thing I love to do), so that’s another way to keep in touch with friends. I used to spend more time on the Internet but not lately, since I have loads to do. I’d go out, visit other cities, basically enjoy life. :)

  40. I have the contact numbers of people who mean the most to me. If I don’t have some, it’s nothing a couple of calls can’t settle. :) I write letters and postcards on a regular basis (it’s just a thing I love to do), so that’s another way to keep in touch with friends. I used to spend more time on the Internet but not lately, since I have loads to do. I’d go out, visit other cities, basically enjoy life. :)

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  42. I’d get super-local… the Internet is about connectivity, and without the super-glue, I’d find regular glue.

  43. I’d get super-local… the Internet is about connectivity, and without the super-glue, I’d find regular glue.

  44. I think I would read more, and possibly take up piano again…might not be a bad thing aside from my music updates..

  45. Well for one i would get more homework done. And from a summer without internet i can tell you that i have been known to read over 14 books a week. …
    Studying, Streaming T.V. , Listening to music, Paying my Credit Cards, Reserving books, and talking to my friends oversea’s wouldn’t exist either.

    So if i didn’t have all that my homework would suffer, bills would have to be paid by phone and walking a few blocks. So i would loose some pounds too. I think with all that extra time i could go sign up for Fencing and Martial Arts as well. I definitely would walk the dog and bike ride more. Overall i would be seriously bored without the net. …

  46. If the internet were to fail, then the only money available to you from that point on would be the cash in your pocket when it happened. Think about it. Humanity is more vulnerable to disaster than it has ever been!

  47. That would be disastrous! A lot of people including me would suddenly have more time on their hands and not know what to do with it….

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