Just How Reliant ARE We On Modern Tech?
We are all addicts.
I'm not talking about liquor, or nicotine, or marijuana, or any of the wide array of hard drugs to be found on the street. I'm not talking about caffeine, or gambling, or food. No, I'm talking about something much more subtle; much more insidious. I am talking about technology. More specifically, I'm referring to the Internet.
Few developments in human civilization have changed the way we communicate and view the world in such a fundamental fashion.
I want you to try something for me, a challenge of sorts: for a single day cut yourself off from all your gadgets, from your smartphones and tablets and computers. If you manage to pull it off without feeling the least bit anxious, concerned, or troubled, then congratulations: you're in the minority.
If, however, you can't deal with the crippling boredom, stop thinking about all the work you should be doing, or stop working yourself into a frenzy wondering what your friends are doing without you, well...Don't worry too much about it. Most people are probably in your shoes.
The truth is, we've become reliant on the technology around us, to the point that it borders on addiction. Many of us can't even leave our homes without our phones, lest we feel incomplete. Most of us can't even go a single day without wiring in to the Internet at least once; whether we're browsing Tumblr or logging on to Facebook or checking our emails. The Internet - and, by association, social media - has become so intertwined with our day-to-day lives, so tied in with the operation of our civilization that were it to somehow fail, we could well be looking at a societal collapse.
Access to the World Wide Web has, in essence, become a necessity for the vast majority of Westerners.
As we move forward into the era of cloud computing, we're only going to become more and more reliant on this technology. It's already how many of us manage our finances, our businesses, and our personal relationships. It's already established itself as the lifeblood of our society, as a source of both information and entertainment greater than anything else in human history. Where does its influence stop? How much more of our lives will inevitably become tied up in the digital realm?
More importantly, what would happen if that realm were to suddenly collapse?
Don't believe me? Let's try a little experiment. I want each and every one of you - even those of you who think you don't need the 'net - to stop and think for a moment. Ask yourself what you use the Internet for. Make a list, if you must.
Now ask yourself if there's any way you could still perform any of those tasks if the Internet were to one day fail. Ask yourself what you'd do if one day you tried to log in and there was only silence at the other end. Would you be able to survive? Would our civilization be able to survive?
You may think I'm waxing on about unimportant drivel. You may believe this to be an exercise in pointless rhetoric. It's not. See, our reliance on technology - on this one technology - actually makes us more than a little vulnerable. I'm not just talking about attacks from other humans, either. Let me give you a layman's explanation of one possible scenario we might be seeing in the very, very near future.
Out in space, ninety-two-million-odd miles away, a storm is brewing. See, the sun, volatile as it is, has this irritating tendency to belch out waves of supercharged particles. These particles - generated by large outbursts on the surface of the star - are magnetically charge. Three guesses as to what happens when that connects with earth. Now, granted, satellite technology is usually outfitted with protection against such events, and the Earth's magnetosphere generally guards us against any severe damage. Usually.
That isn't always the case. Just a few months ago, the Earth narrowly avoided getting hit full-on with a magnetic flare that, had it struck, could well have sent most developed nations straight back to the stone age. Now, the likelihood of this actually happening is pretty slim - but there's still a chance.
I think I've rambled on enough. Before wrapping things up for the day, I want you to ask yourself once more: what would you do without the Internet?