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Life Without the Internet !

Computers and the internet are so interwoven into our lives that it’s hard to imagine life without them. Sure, there are those who have gone off the grid and decided to live internet-free for several months, or even longer; but that’s not the same thing as the internet not existing. The reality is that you can unplug your Ethernet cable, delete all of your social media accounts, and turn in your smart phone and tablet, but that would only give you a small picture of what it’s really like to live without the internet. To do that, we need to go back to the pre-internet era of the late 1980s.

No Internet in the 1980s?

It’s not entirely fair to say that the internet did not exist in the 1980s. After all, the movie War Games was all about the dangers of internet hacking. But the internet that existed then was nothing like the internet we have today.

First of all, it was largely used for military or educational purposes and there were very few average citizens on it. The internet in the 1980s was like HAM or CB radio today – used by a small group of professionals, and some aficionados; and mostly from a basement somewhere.

Second, it was much, much, much, slower. Everything was done over the analog phone line – not DSL from the phone company, not coaxial from the cable company, and definitely not fiber optic from sites like fiberinternetproviders.com.

It’s hard to describe exactly how slow internet connectivity was back then. The best we can do is show you this AOL Dial Up from the nineties, and have you imagine that showed down by about half. And that was just getting on the internet.

Third, actual navigation was all text-based. You dialed into a server and, from there, navigated to a chat room, or maybe played a game with other people, all in yellow or green, blocky text on a black screen. No graphics, no video, no sound.

Fourth, computers were expensive. Sure, today’s high-end gaming computers can run you several thousand, but you can also pick up a perfectly serviceable laptop for less than $300, and a cheap tablet for even less. When Radio Shack’s TRS-80 came out in 1979, you could get a base model for about $600, but the deluxe setup – with 16 kilobits of memory, a BASIC OS, a floppy drive, and a 12-inch black and white display could easily set you back nearly $2,000. Other computers of the era were not much cheaper. And that did not take into account the cost of the phone rig to actually dial into the internet, or the telephone charges you would have to pay for the time.

So, even though an internet of sorts was around in the late 80s, it wasn’t really accessible to everyone, and it didn’t do nearly as much as it does today.

The thing is, without that internet connectivity, so many aspects of our daily lives would be much, much different.

Life Without the Internet

First, we would know even less about what’s actually going on in the world than we do now. In the 1980s we had a lot of sources of information. We had radio, television – including cable, and print media, and they all did a pretty good job of getting the news out so long as the powers that be wanted it out. That would still be the case today were it not for the fact that we now have social media sites, blog sites, and internet news sites where people from all over the world can congregate and share information.

Look at it this way, The Chernobyl reactor explosion happened on April 26, 1986, yet people in nearby Soviet cities didn’t even know that it happened until the government announced it several days later. Compare that to Fukushima explosion, which the world witnessed in nearly real time, thanks in large part to the availability of information on the internet.

Second, we wouldn’t be able to get as much work done. Sure, the internet can be a real time suck, but imagine how much time you would waste if you actually had to go to the bank and stand in line to do your banking, or pay your bills, or go to the post office and buy stamps? What if you had to walk up to the pharmacist with a prescription, because your doctor couldn’t submit that information online? Or what if you are travelling in another city but can’t take out money at a branch of your bank because the branches in different cities aren’t connected to each other.
Even if you don’t use the internet every day, the businesses and services that you depend on do. Without the internet, you would spend a lot of time standing in line, and be very restricted in how and where you can do your business because those business wouldn’t have easy communication with each other.
The internet is about more than cat videos, porn, and celebrity gossip. At its core it’s a way for people to disseminate timely and important information, and get things done.