Yesterday, our region experienced some high wind activity, and we were left without power at home. Though my internet devices (modem, routers, wireless access point) are on a battery backup, the outage looked like it was going to last for a little while, so I shut those devices off.
I got to school thinking that I could just do my daily internet rounds from the classroom, only to find that the internet was down on campus. The campus is supplied by a local ISP which beams microwaves from a distant mountain to a dish on campus. Of course, the distant mountain was also experiencing high winds, as well as some sleet, so there was no access to the outside world.
Though it’s not as extreme as a Technological Holocaust, being without internet access for 12 hours got me thinking. What would I–as a knowledge worker–do in a world where technology was rendered unusable?
More and more, my dependence on the internet grows. I do all of my banking online, writing, news, communication etc. I rely on the internet to get me through my day by either being a vessel of my work, or providing an infinite amount of distracting material to help my procrastination skills.
As a programmer and blogger, I live my life and make my connections in a connected setting, and tend to use the internet as a way to get me through my day.
Let’s say a nuclear bomb was dropped somewhere, disabling the internet indefinitely. Though I’m sure society would have bigger things to worry about, I asked myself what I would do then if I were left without a vehicle for my work, and what kind of occupation could I fit myself into easily and effectively?
Uselessness of Fiction
I was thinking that ideally, I could finish writing my novels. I don’t need fancy spellcheckers or internet access to do the research involved with writing.
There’s one problem: who would want to read fiction during a time of national distress? I, as well as all the other fiction writers out there, would probably be without a job.
There is something to be said about actually finishing my visions and getting them down on paper so that my genetically mutated great grandchildren could publish them in their new Utopian world, but I think that’s just wishful thinking.
I then thought about what skills that I have that would be useful in a world without high technology. I came to the conclusion that my usefulness lies in problem solving skills.
Though I’ve never been able to solve a Rubik’s Cube, I pride myself as a programmer and all around technical fellow as a problem solver. The best part of developing a piece of software, or figuring out why a Windows computer is blue screening, is that there is a solution to the problem, I just have to find it.
I’m not sure what kind of things I would be interested in doing, but I know that society isn’t very well off with people who can think outside of the confines of reality in order to solve a problem, however small it is.
I kid a lot with my Darwin Man comics about how the world is getting dumber, and the human race is practically doomed due to the lack of widespread innovation and the weakening of bloodlines, but in a world where answers are just a Google search away, would we be able to survive as a species without the crutch of high technology?
As a fellow flawed human, I would like to think ‘yes’. Humans have existed for millennia without computers, cars and airplanes. Sure there would be a huge hit to the world should something catastrophic happen, though we don’t have a super-human leader, we should be able to get through life sans-technology.
Is this just wishful thinking? In evolutionary terms, most likely the human race would emerge from the tragedy as a more unified, stronger entity. Eliminating the completely useless trades and occupations, we as a species would have to focus on the base survival skills, such as food, water and shelter, thus weeding out those of us who are not survivors.
Wow, I guess this was a very morbid topic today. I’d like for you to tell me what you think, and whether I’m completely off on these remarks. Let’s get a discussion going about the end of the world, and see where it leads.