I don’t know about you, but I know what I would do: feel a whole lot smaller. The other night I was up late (too wired to sleep) and was going through some old Oddball updates — from the nineties — and kept running into circumstances where I would mention something that wasn’t quite right, information that I wondered why I didn’t factually verify before writing it. Other times I’d see myself writing about how I wanted to talk about something or another, but didn’t know the facts of the issue. So why don’t you just look ’em up? I thought to myself, and then it occurred to me that in those days, doing that wasn’t so easy.
Nowadays, if there’s something you want to know, no matter how trivial — like how to say “sixteen” in Swahili, or whatever — you just Google the answer. Even when I was in my last year of high school, we at least had dialup Internet access with rudimentary search engines of the day (Excite was my favorite back then). But in the early to mid nineties, the only Internet access I had was to FTP sites, and in the very early days of the Web, a black and white text-only browser called Lynx.
Sure, I could have gone to the library or something to look up information, but when you’re sitting at home and you just want to know some ridiculous little tidbit of info for no other reason than your own personal satisfaction (and when you’re not old enough to drive yet, heh heh) that seems like overkill.
These days my dependence is even worse — whenever our service goes offline, which admittedly is quite rare, I sorta vegetate. Oh gee, I was going to — no wait, I can’t do that. Well let me just — uh, wait, that isn’t possible either. It’s almost become a subconscious action to open a browser and check the latest news or happenings in town every few minutes, to the point where if the Internet isn’t available, you suddenly feel very out of the loop…even if you’ve only been cut off for a few minutes. And if I’m trying to work, the problem is exacerbated many times over; seems like most of the resources I need to do my job are remotely located, but accessing them over a high speed connection makes you take them for granted, like they’re actually in your own house.
So what’s your index of Unfortunate Internet Dependence™?