Without internet for a day

Uprosper without internet for a day

Would you be able to live without the internet for a day? Many people get anxious when thinking about being without their phone for a few hours. Most of us use the internet on a daily basis for various things such as communication, work-related tasks, resources, education, shopping, entertainment etc. Much of which the internet is the primary source of making this all possible.

Many businesses today rely on the internet to make a profit for their businesses. They include online shops or online casinos. People also use search engines to look up businesses, find their contact information and use Google maps to get there. We depend a lot on the internet and its resources for daily interaction and information.

But would being without the internet for a day make people go mad, businesses crumble and the economy take a plunge?

In 2008 Jeff Hancock, a Stanford University Professor, gave his students an assignment. They were not to use the internet for 48 Hours (weekend). They then had to write about their experience and how it affected them during this period. But when he tried to give the same assignment to his students a year after, he got a whole different response.

When I tried to introduce the task, there was a class revolt,” says Hancock, who does studies revolving around the psychological and social processes involved in online communication. “The students emphatically said the assignment was impossible and unfair.”

Their argument was about them falling behind in other class assignments, ruined social lives and family members getting worried if they don’t hear from them. Since then he has never attempted it again.  “That was 2009, and now with mobile as present as it is, I don’t even know what students would do if I asked them to do that,” he says. “They’d probably report me to the university president.

Passing the 4 Billion Mark in Jan 2018 we see an increase of about 10 new internet users per second. Less than 1% of the world’s population were internet users in 1995.

In a Pew Research Centre, a fifth of all Americans say that they “almost constantly” use the internet while 73% say they use the internet daily. A study done in the UK has about the same results founding that about 90% of adults saying they have used the internet in the past 3 months.

Hard to believe that many can’t go without using the internet for a day.

“One of the biggest problems with the internet today is that people take it for granted – yet they don’t understand the degree to which we’ve allowed it to infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives,” says William Dutton who works at the Michigan State University. “They don’t even think about not having access to it.”

It could be quite difficult to shut the internet off completely. However, every day there are parts of the web that crashes but only temporarily. The internet isn’t centralized. A vast amount of cables, computers and servers carry the huge amount of data across to various networks. It wont go off with one flip of a switch. It is inviolable though.

Things that could possibly go wrong could include cyber-attacks. These could release software that destructively targets vulnerabilities in routers, which forward our internet traffic.

Cutting of deep sea cables, carrying ample amounts of traffic between continents. Although not easily targeted but could be possible.

You can’t cut the internet off with a flip off a switch but certain governments can cut off the internet in their country using something called a “kill-switch”. These will effectively cut off the entire countries internet connectivity. Egypt, Turkey and Iran have done this during protests to decrease havoc. American senators are proposing to have one, to protect against cyber-attacks.

Big devastation could probably come from space with solar flares taking out satellites, power grids and computer systems. These things could happen but there is always an army of people standing by to make these temporary problems.

A study done by Borg who was asked by the US Department of Homeland Security in 2018, wanted to know what would happen if the internet went down. By studying the economic effects of computer and internet outages in the US from 2000 onwards, Borg and his colleagues found it may not be too severe. From the 20 companies who claimed they would be most affected in each case, they studied their quarterly financial records and found minor impacts if an outage of about 4 days or less occurred.

Borg says: “These were instances where enormous losses were being claimed– in the hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars,”. Going on he said: “But while some industries like hotels, airlines and brokerage firms suffered a bit, even they didn’t experience very big losses.

It showed that people only fall behind on their work when their web access is cut off. “People carried out all the same activities they would have done had the internet been up, but they just did it two or three days later,” Borg says. “The economy is set up to deal with what essentially amounts to a holiday weekend.

Could this increase productivity if companies just switch off their computers for a few hours a day? In another study, Borg and his colleagues were to study what people did when the internet was off for just a few hours. Their finding was that the employees would go about doing paperwork resulting in boosting the business. This could possibly increase productivity if they completed all the postponed tasks.

In a short-term, travelling such as planes, trains and busses wouldn’t be affected too much. They can operate without the internet but it might be hard for that business to run their business efficiently. Having a plan B in place in case of such an outage might keep a business from struggling days without internet.

In 1998, about 90% of 50 million pagers stopped working in the US. Following the days of the blackout, 250 pager users were surveyed. Their answers showed clear socio-economic division in these people’s reactions. Individual people with managerial or professional jobs in the upper-middle-class found it to be “like a snow day,” which was a relief.

When people don’t have internet, feelings of isolation and anxiety may occur. People mainly use the internet to communicate with each other. If we are not able to connect to one another, at any time and place, we start to worry. “Do I know where I’m going? Will I be able to get back home? What if my tire bursts, will I be able to use someone’s phone to call for help?”

We have this perspective that if we are without our phones we will become more social. In some cases, I would disagree. For instance, we don’t speak to any strangers when we stand inline by a till but in the office co-workers need to communicate.

Although I don’t think an internet outage for a day might cause too much controversy. For it to completely shut down for long terms, could most probably cause complete havoc. We do need the internet for mainly communication as it’s fast, reliable and saves us a lot of resources. For daily business tasks, it’s also important. We mustn’t take our communication methods for granted. There might just come a day where we’ll need to convert back to old methods that don’t use the internet.

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