I was without internet for about three days, and I have to admit that’s pretty much how I felt.
Since I don’t spend too much time on social media (okay, okay, I hardly ever spend any), what annoyed me the most was that I couldn’t save my work on the cloud. And the fact that I couldn’t do any research for my work. Also, the fact I couldn’t reach out to other authors who write post apocalyptic horror, like The Darkening and arrange some cross promotions (you can find more about my book here, by the way).
However, it got me thinking as to how would our civilisation react to a scenario where the internet no longer worked. I tried to come up with a chain of events that could happen, and the reaction it would take from us to either carry on from where we stopped or start anew.
To carry on from where we stopped it would mean that we would have access to an alternative technology that already exists but has yet to be used (probably because of a more reliable, like the internet), and that the means to spread it to every country are also there and have not been affected by the collapse of the internet.
To start anew means that we’re talking about a possible post-apocalyptic case, the current civilisation has collapsed, and that it’s up to those who remain to create something new with what it would be available to them at the time. Availability here also includes knowledge and the means to pass it on to future generations.
Naturally, this led me to ponder on our dependency on technology to do even the most basic things (like talking to each other, for instance). I’m one of those who believe that if we were to experience an apocalyptic event that brought the end of every kind of advanced technology we currently have, not many of us would be able to pick up the pieces and carry on living in stone age conditions. Just imagine what our lives would be like without running water and electricity at our disposal. Without being able to properly heat our houses. The networks for electricity distribution and the water supply rely on the internet. Probably not the same as the one you and I use, but one that could be affected just the same. In an apocalyptic scenario, these are the first that would collapse. Then of course, there’s the banking system one has to consider, but I think lack of water and electricity would cause more chaos than the fall of the banks.
And of course, our medicine. We have a pill for nearly everything these days, and hardly ever do we rely on our own immune systems to do the job they were meant to do. I’m not a biologist, but I think this may have potentially weakened us. Just think of how many unseen things are in a glass of non purified water that runs from our taps. The word dysentery keeps popping into my mind.
I have no doubt that we would be able to scavenge from what was left and make do for a while, but what would happen after we ran out of things to scavenge and had to make new ones? Let’s say you need a new pan to cook your fish. How easy is it nowadays for you as a consumer to acquire a pan, and how easy is it to manufacture one these days? They probably come out of an assembly line by the thousands in record time (just guessing here, obviously). Would it be as easy if you had to mine the mineral, separate the impurities, melt it, mold it/shape it, then distribute it? How many of us here know how to do any of these things? The process is the same in both cases, but I believe that although our technology has made us the dominant species on Earth, our dependency on it and the ease it brings to our every day lives, has also become an obstacle and a hindering factor. And then one has to take into account the complexity in creating things, which is why we have specialised and trained people for almost everything. However, high level of knowledge in a field, means people know just the one field. Survival, requires more than one though.
What do you think would happen if one day the internet were to stop working completely? What would the chain of events be after that?