What Would We Do If The Internet Collapsed?
One of the consequences of Sudan’s coup d’état in late October this year was the internet becoming inaccessible to the Sudanese population. The motivation was obvious: it is much harder to organise a resistance without it. In fact, any form of resistance is much harder these days if we’re deprived of internet access than it would have been before the internet existed. We got used to it. And we take it for granted. I know I do.
When I heard the news, I wasn’t as surprised by the action itself as I was by the fact that it was possible. Take down the internet? How is that a thing? In the wireless illusion of the modern world we often forget that the illusion still needs cables, thousands of miles long, to bridge oceans, and satellites, thousands of miles high, to feed us with information. Our experience with computers (from handheld to desktop) is increasingly software-based, and it is easy for us to forget that, at the end of the day, it’s still all metal, plastic and electric current.
Funnily enough, just as I’m wiring these lines, my music has stopped because Spotify is down. A server somewhere? An incautious cleaner who unplugged the wrong cable to use the hoover? Well, whatever it is, the music has stopped, which isn’t nearly as dramatic as losing the main means for insurrection but still relevant to the point I’m so haphazardly trying to make.
What would we do if the internet went out? What about electricity? It’s comforting to think that we would revolt, but I suspect half of us don’t even know what it means to revolt. Against whom… what? How? When?! It’s stressful just to picture it. Therefore, in response to the inconvenience of such a terrible prospect, we do what we normally do in these occasions: we don’t think about it.
I’m guilty as charged, and this article has no intention of being moralising or judgemental. Yet, I think we’re making a mistake every time we choose to look the other way. Don’t get me wrong, though: I also believe it would be useless to spend our days worrying about all that could go wrong. Still, it is useful to spare a moment or two to wonder about the things that we take for granted. Maybe a couple of minutes before getting up and a couple of minutes…