It’s a Saturday. You wake up a little late, the weekend is finally here. You reach for your phone but there are no messages, emails or those annoying push notifications from apps. You call out to Alexa to play your playlist, a Maroon 5 song in stuck in your head since it played during a Zoom birthday party you attended last night. That’s strange, nothing plays. You call out again: “Alexa play My Jam”. Still nothing. You realise there is no internet and reset the router to make the Wi-Fi work, but no success. Just as you are about to dial customer care to complain about the lack of network, your colleague calls and he has the same story to tell … the unthinkable has happened. There is no internet anywhere!

Vector created by pikisuperstat –

Your first reaction is to check the news on your smartphone, but wait, that needs internet too. You switch on the TV, but the TV news channels are facing technical difficulties, after all their operations also rely on internet. However, you find a channel where an anchor is speaking, initial reports suggest that there has been a cyber attack. No one knows how long it will take for the internet to come back on. Instinctively you open the family WhatsApp group to discuss the implications, then quickly realise that calling is the only way to stay connected. You can’t Tweet or post about it on Facebook either. As the day progresses, there is realisation of how our lives are so deeply dependent on the internet.

The plan was to order the monthly groceries from Big Basket/Grofers over the weekend. Now that cannot be done. You decide to go to the supermarket. On the way your friend calls and asks if you can pick her up too. The cab apps are also down so transportation is tough. Now you are faced with yet another challenge, no Google maps to guide you to her location. Somehow you manage to get your friend and on the way discuss that thankfully it was not a working day, else even bigger challenges would be before you. Given the work from home scenario, no work would have been done. There is a sea of people at the supermarket and you can feel the panic in the air. When you finally reach the billing counter it dawns on you that debit and credit cards will not work. Luckily you manage to find enough cash in your wallet to pay for your purchase. 

On the way back home you stop at a restaurant to pack some food for the night. With no food delivery apps, it’s probably better to plan ahead. You check the ATM but that too is down and you make a mental not to go to the bank on Monday to withdraw cash. Back at home, you relax and switch on Netflix for some weekend entertainment only to realise that too will not work. So you pick up a book, after what feels like ages. Later it occurs to you that you have your old music system lying somewhere. You bring it out and turn on the radio and get transported back to your childhood.

In the evening you have your virtual yoga class, however, you get an SMS from the instructor that it stands cancelled. You go for a walk in your apartment complex instead. A lot of people are out walking and instead of looking down at their phones, are greeting each other. That’s interesting, you think to yourself. Back home your eat dinner and with that this day without the internet comes to an end.

As you lie in bed, you wonder when internet became such a big part of your life, amazed at how we don’t understand the degree to which we’ve allowed it to infiltrate almost every aspect of our being. You shudder as you think of what will happen if no solution is found and the outage continues for days or months?

The Takeaway

The biggest problem is that we don’t understand the degree to which we’ve allowed the internet to infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives. While humans adapt, the scale of disruption is sure to cause chaos and panic. However, depending on how long term is the outage, the feeling could be fleeting. Losing the internet may also make us recognise its importance in our lives, but we would soon be taking it for granted again. Remember 2008? When people in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia faced major internet outages when submarine cables were cut or damaged? Now 13 years on, the internet is everywhere and even a small outage will have big impact. Over dependence on technology can be very dangerous for mankind and if there is anything that the COVID 19 crisis has taught us, it is to not take anything for granted.

There is no doubt that the internet has added a lot of value to our lives. But, life is all about balance. We have the internet at our disposal and we can use it, or not use it, for just about everything. So this, right now, is the best time to evaluate how much should we rely on the internet in our everyday lives.