The other day I caught part of an interview about cyberterrorism. It was frightening to realize that malicious hackers have the potential to disrupt communication, financial transactions, and even the operation of a hospital. This is our brave new world, one in which we have become increasingly dependent on the internet.
This realization hit home in a much less serious way this week after a storm played havoc with our WiFi, and we have been without reliable internet service for the past two days. Aside from missing my daily Facebook fix, I found myself frustrated with the inability to order my daughter’s schoolbooks, print a summer camp packing list, check my email,or (horror of horrors) even write a blog post!
I have come to so take for granted the use of the internet, that I find myself at a loss to figure out another way to accomplish many routine tasks. Is the crutch of the worldwide web causing us to lose some skills we may later miss – the way young people can no longer write, and more importantly, read cursive?
Yesterday I went to the library to look for a book and chatted with the staff member at the help desk, who assisted me in placing a hold on a couple of titles from another library in the system. I asked her whether the internet disruption had affected the library, and she said it hadn’t. How, I wondered, would you check out books if the system went down? She said they had a manual backup on the computer system they could use as long as the power wasn’t also out. The conversation made me remember the old days of little pockets inside each library book that would be stamped with a due date and matched with a card held at the library to keep track of checkouts. I also thought about long hours spent with the card catalog, flipping through index cards to find material on a particular subject.
There is no doubt the internet has made life so much easier for us. I love Google. I can search for anything from a product I want to purchase to a subject for a blog post to the name of that actor in that movie we were just talking about the other night. But I worry that my dependence on the web will make me unable to function in a world without WiFi.
I now have access to the internet again, and it has restored some equilibrium in the household. But maybe I’d better practice some old school techniques such as looking up phone numbers in the phone book so that I’m not at a total loss the next time our internet is down.