Messing around on the internet is kind of like our religion. According to this splendid infographic from Mashable, internet access means we consume about three times as much information on a daily basis as folks did back in the 1960s. We also check our emails/switch between computer programmes about every two minutes during our work days.
So, the internet has crept into our daily lives, making websites like Money4Machines a quick easy way to sell laptops, smartphones, old Kindles, old iPads and whatever else you’ve got floating about. Mashable minions reckon we don’t just do everything online now, we do everything online and at the same time (how often do you have to feverishly remind yourself to stop flicking between windows and finish one task at a time?)
But what if it all just… went away?
We’d have to re-learn how to learn
Our marketing pawns are just about old enough to remember a time when Wikipedia was considered cheating. Essays and learning and study-ish things came from books if they wanted to be credible (we mean the info came from books, not that they were sneakily copied out!)
Now, we’re big fans of Jimmy Wales, but the likes of Wikipedia have detrimentally changed the way we store and access information. We no longer bother to remember the exact dates of the Yalta Conference or length of Henry V’s reign or how long the gestation period of an elephant is. Instead, we remember HOW we found the information.
Can you remember our sell for cash UK rates exactly? No, and why should you bother if you can use less brain power to remember the route you took to the answer? In a way it’s pretty sensible, what with us being exposed to three times as much information as our pre-internet days and all; it means we can keep up. But in an internet-free world we’d have to re-learn all those old revision techniques and memory tricks!
We would have to go places to do things (so would we do less?)
Our SEO lady is off on her jollies in a couple of weeks for a month in Thailand and Laos. She researched everything from local Bangkok bus services to the cheapest flights and best recommended jungle walking boots. She did it all online. It took ten minutes to book her flights and first hotel. Without the internet, she’d have had to go to that edifice of ancient knowledge – the library – read a bunch of books, pop to a few travel agents, chat to people who’ve been (in person) and generally spend time figure out what the hell is the best way to travel down the Mekong and where to buy the best pad thai.
But here’ the thing – if we had to actually get up and go and do things, would we bother? It’s estimated 34% of UK students will take a gap year in 2012. As recently as 1999, most gap year students weren’t taking the year out to get hammered on a Thai beach; they were volunteering in Africa, working with animals in Bolivia, sailing around the world for charity or undertaking some other challenging feat. The point is that they were driven to accomplish something. Fast forward to the about 2010 and most gap year students admit that their ‘lust for life’ is more ‘thirst for beer’, a journey made possible by the good old faithful internet, the Bank of Mum and Dad and the ease of social media!