Ronni and Brittany ponder how the internet has changed our lives in the past 25 years, as well as discuss whether or not the world would be better or worse off if the internet were to suddenly disappear.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Ronni: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Ronni.
Ronni: Hey. So, I was thinking about this, but this, what would happen if the internet went out? Not power, but I mean the internet, like just the internet wifi, like we’re back in our childhoods in the 1980s.
Brittany: I don’t think I would do, well. I think my power’s gone out a few times, where I’ve lost the internet and I just like sitting there twiddling my thumbs, like, wait, do I have to read a book? Now? I do read a lot, but it’s just, it’s weird, right? I don’t know what I would do.
Ronni: Well, because I was actually, my daughter asked me that the other day and it really got me thinking, because now we have electricity, and electricity, you know, gives us the air conditioning and you know, the lights and all of those things that sometimes we lose in a power outage. But if we kept those but lost the internet, it would be so strange.
Brittany: It would be so strange.
Ronni: We’ve developed into this world where, and I do this too, so much of my regular everyday life is connected online. I mean, right now, this podcast that we’re recording, this would not be possible without the internet unless we were together. But we’re not, we’re in totally different states.
Brittany: Not, not only that, I keep thinking about like, you can’t use Netflix without the internet. And I don’t have cable. I don’t know about you guys, like people, a lot of people don’t have cable anymore, right? So like, I couldn’t watch TV and I have a DVD player somewhere, but like, I don’t know where it is. So it’s not even just the internet. And I know that this is bad for privacy, but I also have a bunch of Google homes in my house and I ask it everything. I’m so reliant on that thing that uses the internet, so I couldn’t use that. So you just think about it, it’s like, wow, it’s not even just, you know, a matter of having electricity when all the things we use electricity on are also connected to the internet.
Ronni: Well, and you mentioned DVD Player, I don’t know about you, but, so we used to have tons of DVDs. We still have some, but especially kids DVDs. When we first started having kids, we started buying, you know, all the Disney movies. I know the, everyone has different feelings about Disney, but we were trying to, you know, stock up on kids.
Brittany: On the old ones. Yeah.
Ronni: Yeah. We were trying to stock up on kids movies, and so we bought a ton and we had this whole like, extensive DVD library. My husband is a big movie guy, so that’s why this was important to us. But then when Disney Plus came out a few years back, we started selling off our DVDs because we could, and people would pay for them. But now I feel as though we made a really, like maybe that was a huge mistake. Not only is now that the, you know, Disney Plus now can decide what movies they want to show, what movies they don’t, but, but back when we owned the DVD, we could just watch it. But now thinking other than just Disney or any streaming service, being able to restrict what you can watch and then the control of having it on DVD, but even if there’s no internet, how do you watch anything?
Brittany: Exactly. Even some, like, I have lights in my house, like light bulbs that are smart light bulbs that also need the internet to work. Yes, and so I’m just thinking even like, I do, I have a lot of books, but if I was gonna use like an e-reader, you have to download those books, from the internet, like everything music I listen to, I don’t use CDs, everything’s on Spotify. , which takes the internet. Like yeah, this is like all horror movie. There doesn’t need to be like an ax murder or anything. All that needs to happen is the internet needs to go out and chaos will ensue. I mean, can you imagine if it had went out during the pandemic? No. We’re all home . Yeah.
Ronni: We would’ve all gone absolutely insane. But you know what, perhaps there would’ve been a silver lining. Maybe we would have actually gone out into, you know, onto our street and walked around and talked with our neighbors who are probably also wandering aimlessly because they didn’t know what to do with their lives. Yeah. And maybe we would’ve struck up conversation in person conversation again.
Brittany: Probably not in the, probably not during the pandemic, but.
Oh yeah, that’s, Okay. So maybe not people like you.
Brittany: You and I would have, but I think most people wouldn’t have good point.
Ronni: Maybe we could’ve stood, you know, on the other sides of the streets and waved at each other or maybe not.
Brittany: But in real life. But today, yes.
Ronni: Maybe not as many people would have been so socially distant.
Brittany: That’s the good point.
Ronni: Maybe people would’ve realized that even though there is this pandemic and they’re worried about it, that making the connection of others in your community is still important. So maybe we would’ve more quickly found ways to get back together again.
Brittany: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I didn’t think of, that’s interesting.
Ronni: Well, so I don’t know when exactly you grew up, but I assume you did grow up at some point in your childhood before the internet tech took over.
Brittany: We had, so this is gonna sound so crazy to the kids listening, you used to be able, like people would give DVDs away. Like if you were to buy something, they’d give you like a hundred free hours of America online and it would be a disc. And you could put that disc in your computer and you could download America online, AOL, which is what everybody used back then. And you know, voila, you were on the internet. And my family, we were pretty early adopters of it. So I believe I was in fifth grade the first time I ever got on the internet. And there wasn’t a whole lot, but it was just, you could find any picture you wanted. You could find a picture of a movie. You could watch a video online. It was just so mind boggling. So, I was 11, 10 or 11. Okay. So I went the first decade at least of my life without having the internet.
Ronni: But so you’re kind of in that In between where you did have part of your childhood without the internet, but a large part of your youth was still with the internet.
Brittany: Yeah, like my junior high years were very much, you know, using, you know, AOL chat and all that. So like very, yeah. So my very early childhood years, no, but I do remember having it, yeah. For a lot of my life.
Ronni: Crazy. See, I think I might be a couple years older than you, but even still, we had the internet so early, my dad was very techie and I remember he connected to the internet using just our phone line. So it made that internet sound.
Brittany: It made that noise.
Ronni: Yeah. Like do you do that?
Brittany: Which means you could not get online if my parents went to bed and I was trying to sneak getting online because like we had a curfew for it, you couldn’t, ’cause you could hear it was so loud.
Ronni: Also, because all your parents had to do was pick up the phone and realize that the line was dead.
Brittany: Oh yeah, that’s right. Because remember use the phone at the same time.
Ronni: And that was before cell phone, so it was either you were online or you were had your phone.
Brittany: How strange . I know.
Ronni: But so I guess back then, if we were to say, yeah, it’s so weird now, again talking about all of this, the how much we use the internet, but then we also use our phones and so many kids that are listening right now have no idea what that was like. But it was very interesting. Oh, the reason I brought that up is because I think I’m a couple years older than you. So, even though we got the internet very early and my dad was connecting before there was AOL back before AOL, they used to be CompuServe and before Comp. Before CompuServe you could just connect computers online. I remember my dad showing me how he could type on his computer just in the regular Doss background. This was nothing fancy. And then our cousins who lived in like another city were typing back to us. So that was my first introduction to the internet. And so.
Brittany: And you have to realize at that time how cool that was.
Ronni: Oh my gosh.
Brittany: It was, that was the future.
Ronni: It was magic. My computer screen was suddenly putting words that someone in another city was typing on their computer. Absolutely amazing. But so I remember part of my childhood without having the internet, so I remember looking up directions to places, without being able to just type them in MapQuest or Google Maps or whatever, the early map.
Brittany: Oh, MapQuest. I used to have to print it. I used have to print my instructions .
Ronni: Well, or I remember if you needed to look up, and call somewhere, you had to look it up in the yellow pages. You couldn’t look up.
Brittany: Which is a phone book for people that dunno what the yellow pages are. You had to look like.
Ronni: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Brittany: It was a giant book.
Ronni: But, so I was thinking about if the internet was to shut down and we were to be forced back into the world of, you know, the 1980s, do you think we could survive? Do you think that we would adapt? Or do you think that we’ve become so accustomed to the conveniences of the internet that we would not know what to do? I think about this when I think about like, the possible dystopian futures I think.
Brittany: Okay. So I think people like you and I who at least remember a time without the internet, right? Like maybe, you know, I think about kids, our listeners who’ve never not had the internet. Like how, I don’t know what that’s like. Cause I can remember a time when that wasn’t, you know, the internet was so cool and so novel and so new. But I mean, I don’t know that I could survive. I’m such a, so music for example, is such a big part of my life and it’s such a big part of just my happiness and I can just go on Spotify and pick any song. And if that was taken away from me, you know, I no longer have CDs anymore. It got rid of all of them. So it’s like, wait, what would I do? I have a lot of books that I love reading and that’s great, but what else would I do? You know, how would we, there are some friends, I don’t have their phone number. We always just message over like Instagram or something. And sometimes ’em like, my really good friends, like that’s just how we’ve always talked. So I think like, okay, I’d have to learn how to talk to this person. My network of people I know would be much smaller because so many of my friends are people I’ve met traveling and I connect with on Instagram or Facebook. So I know for me, I think people are adaptable. I think we could serve, I think we could, you know, figure it out. But it, I don’t think it would be a good transition. It would be very hard for me.
Ronni: Okay. Here’s another question for you then. What about news? If news didn’t travel so quickly because it would only be printed, do you think that this would be bad because we couldn’t get information out? Or do you think it would be good because we couldn’t just change an online article and you know, like rewrite the past?
Brittany: I think that’s a very good question. I mean, I think that could almost be a whole there, but I think that’s such a good question because I think it is more good like there’s more good than bad with having the internet. Because I think back to, you know, Connor and I have talked a lot about propaganda. Let’s look at like World War II, Nazi propaganda. They controlled everything that was printed. Obviously there was no, internet at that time. And everything that was on the radio had to be pre-approved. And they knew what it was saying. So everybody had one narrative, one thing that they believed that they subscribed to. Now with COVID, let’s say for example, you know, this follow the science, it wasn’t always the science, but if you believed anything different, you know, you were anti-science or whatever, but how great is it that people were able to get on the internet and find their own answers to questions? And not all of its true. Not everything on the internet is true, but you had something available in your home that let you fact check government and say, I don’t know if I’m being told the truth, I wanna do more research. And that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have the internet.
Ronni: That’s true. All right. Well, for all of our readers or our listeners out there who are.
Brittany: And readers.
Ronni: Readers that I, this would probably probably be a fun conversation to have with your parents. So I was suggest, you know, talking to them and saying, Hey, what was it like? Could we survive? So yeah. It’s fine.
Brittany: No, I think that’s great. Yeah. And we can wrap it up there. I’d actually be curious to know maybe something you could do with your parents is do like what, like a day in the life of somebody who didn’t have the internet, like growing up, like what was your life like before a summer vacation, for example? Like, I remember my summer vacations without the internet. If you were bored, you had to find something to do like, yeah. So that’s interesting. But we will wrap it up there. This is a really fun topic, Ronni. And we will talk to you guys next time.
Ronni: See you soon.