• Ryan M. Pierson

What Would the World Be Like if the Internet Suddenly Disappeared?

Mub31, a member of the LockerGnome community on YouTube asked: “What would the world be like if the Internet never existed, or what would it be like if the Internet suddenly stopped now?”

That’s a very interesting question. Today, most of the world’s communication is done through electronic means, and the most predominant of them being connected to or part of what we know today as the Internet. Email, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and traditional Web sites are all dependent on this interconnected group of systems to deliver information from one place to the next.

If it didn’t exist, we would almost definitely be in a different situation socially and economically than we are today. Prior to the Internet, we depended on a few select mass media outlets to deliver information by means of word of mouth, television, radio, and newspaper. Many of us didn’t hear about things going on in the world until the next day. In disaster situations, services like Twitter have been able to deliver important distress calls where phone service fails.

If the Internet went away today without warning or backups in place, that could cause a communications and information disaster akin to nothing we’ve seen before. Now, more than ever, we are dependent on the Internet for many of our everyday tasks.

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Cloud computing is being utilized by companies that would be in immediate trouble if that backbone were to suddenly disappear. Much of our economy (both globally and locally) has moved from physical face-to-face interaction to one based almost entirely online. It would be safe to say that these companies would almost definitely go out of business before long. The global economic impact could be severe and devastating.

In developing countries, the Internet is still a fairly new medium. However, many societies have undergone major governmental changes due to sudden and sustained links to the outside world. Twitter and other social services have enabled communities to come together and free themselves from the bonds of an oppressive government. Whether you agree with the politics or not, removing this vital tool of communication at this moment could have disastrous and lasting results in those societies.

The Internet has only been around for a blink of an eye compared to the longer history of humankind. Ultimately, we would move on and create some other medium for communicating and sharing information. That’s how progress works, and there’s no reason to think that we wouldn’t come to a similar conclusion if given the chance once more.

So, I bring this question to you. What would the world be like if the Internet suddenly disappeared?


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