I’ll admit it: I am an internet addict. When I wake up on Saturday morning, the first thing I wanna do is brew an extremely strong pot of coffee and start reading the newspapers online. I like to start my morning with a dose of acidic caffeine and depressing humanitarian crises.
I run this blog too, so actively engaging followers and promoting my posts on social media can become a daily fixture. I try not to get sucked into Facefuck too much, but every few days, I do get the urge to check in. 9 out of 10 posts though are always just about Trump or Game of Thrones anyway, so its no longer very interesting to me.
I’m not anti social media per se, but it’s easy enough to get drawn into that world when you have free time on your hands. I think before when the internet didn’t exist, I would read more, practice music or be actively engaged outside the house with my friends. Not that I’ve stopped doing these things, but the internet can easily become a great way to entertain yourself all on your own. I’m an introvert by nature, so this is for sure a tendency I need to watch out for.
And there are absolutely great things to found online. All the world’s newspapers are there for your perusing. Blogs by artists, amateur journalists, dancers, travelers, photographers etc. You really do have access to just about all 6000 years of information known to humanity– and it’s accessible through your little plastic telephone. Honestly, you have no excuse for being ignorant anymore. The problem is that most people just use their telephone to look at videos of cats.
It seems like most of us nowadays are hooked into the internet for so much of our waking hours. We use it to shop, communicate, find a dating partner, apply for jobs etc, we start to be unable to function without its presence. Even though widespread internet use is only around 15 years old, it’s sometime difficult to know what the hell we did most of the time before it.
I went to Cuba in September of 2017, and the streets at night, even though they were devoid of street lamps, were simply FULL of young people, even kids, glued to their cheap Chinese laptops and smartphones. I hope they were actually doing something important with their newfound digital freedom- rather than just posting ducky lip selfies on Instagram.
So what would happen if the internet actually shut down?
Togo (no, it’s not a sandwich shop- its a small country in West Africa), actually experienced this just a few months ago due to a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. What would you predict to be the consequences of people’s smartphones and laptops becoming useless?
When young people started mobilising online against Togo’s president, the state switched off the internet. In the week that followed, people talked more, worked harder and had less sex – all of which proved bad news for the government
I would say it was a mixed bag. You would hope that young people would actually start boozing it up and having more sex with each other during this social media blackout. Disappointingly, quite the opposite: they started becoming more productive and actually working hard to progress their society away from a corrupt dictatorship. Funny how the government’s tactics complete backfired on them. Maybe Millennials aren’t actually the smartphone addicted fucktards they’re usually depicted as after all…
Another shocking phenomenon emerged from this digital blackout: “Men who previously sought to impress ladies by copying and pasting cute quotes and images on social media now had to go out, bring friends together in a bar, pay the bill and prove their real verbal and intellectual skills.” Verbal and intellectual skills: what the hell are those?!? Women are actually impressed by that stuff? What’s this world coming to I tell you?
Things only spiraled downwards from there: “Outside the workplace, without smartphones as a distraction, and with free time forcibly laid before them, people started talking to one another more; they walked in parks, enjoyed the outdoors.”
Then, the Coup De Grâce: “Interest in reading surged. It was heartwarming to see restless kids and adults embracing dusty books and magazines. Spontaneous conversation with strangers surged […] Conversations were lively, as they had been in the days before social media. That old thing called family dinner lasted longer. Without interruptions, it felt as though people were more caring, more available to each other.”
Well, the jury’s not yet out on all of this. I know for many people, having dinner with their family is the equivalent of getting a nightly root canal, but later on in life you’ll miss those conversation you used to have with Grandpa about the “War Years”.
But besides the lack of inebriation and club hookups, an internet/social media shutdown could actually be good for society. You might actually improve your witty repartee with the ladies (although they’ll probably be more interested in fighting for democracy than giving you a blowjob). Furthermore, you might just start chatting with your next door neighbors and taking in nature.
As the journalist noted in his editorial, if the government had actually wanted to carry on with their dictatorship and not have young people rise up against it, they should have simply left the internet on. Most people would have just continued watching pornography, WhatsApping and YouTubing. Although we shouldn’t ever need an internet shutdown to pick up a book or start talking to strangers at the local pub. So when the Zombie Apocalypse hits, we will all just have to go back to talking to each other, playing acoustic instruments and killing zombies. Like back in the good old days…