Today, the internet is broken.
It is broken in the way a downed power line is broken—it is temporarily inconvenient, but not permanent. At one time or other, we’ve all had to live a couple hours (or perhaps even days) without internet, electricity, or running water. We dealt. We read an ink-and-woodpulp book, organized our kitchen cabinets, played board games, frantically packed formerly refrigerated food into coolers, lit candles, brushed our teeth using bottled water, and lit the natural gas stovetop with matches. It was possible to continue like this for the couple hours—or the couple days—it was necessary, but our lives felt as though they were on pause. We granted ourselves leniency. Clothes could go unwashed, shopping could go undone, and emails could go unread while we waited for our lives to resume.
These were short term fixes. These compromises were only acceptable because we knew they would come to an end.
It may seem silly to some people—the conflation of internet access to that of electricity and running water. But at one point in the not-too-distant past, these too were considered novelties. Now they are considered basic human rights. And for those of us who are lucky enough to have constant access to running water and flowing electricity, what is the internet but constant access to information? Whether we are filling water balloons or quenching thirst, playing Wii or baking dinner, watching cat videos or organizing a revolution, the frivolous uses should not be allowed to detract from the practical, from the necessary.
Let’s ensure the internet does not suffer a permanent blackout.