Samara O'Shea

The Day the Internet Died

A random confession: I have premonitions. They happen occasionally and they’re nothing profound. As a matter of fact, they usually revolve around movies and television shows. It started with the movie Deep End of the Ocean (an easily forgotten Michelle Pfeiffer flick). A few years ago, scenes from that film would pop into my head for no apparent reason, and then I’d inevitably catch it on TV that same day or in the days that followed. This happened several times. It’s happened more recently with the movie Mermaids. The older the movie the more significant (I use the word significant loosely) the premonition—because why in the world would I be thinking of the movie Mermaids!? A few weekends ago I was on the bus heading toward NYC, and I thought of a specific episode of Sex and the City. It was the episode when the girls go to Atlantic City. Charlotte feels like an old maid. Miranda is feeling self conscious because she hasn’t lost the baby weight. Samantha is paranoid that Richard is going to cheat again. And Carrie is upset that there hasn’t been a new photograph taken of the four of them in years. About an hour later, I arrived at my friend Patrick’s apartment and turned on his TV. Guess which episode of Sex and the City was airing on TNT that very night? I once had a semi-serious premonition. In high school, I envisioned that my friend would get caught sleeping with her boyfriend (which her parents certainly did not want her doing) by a carelessly placed condom wrapper. And that’s exactly how it happened!

I don’t interpret this as ESP or anything quite so glorious—just random senses that I have (that I think we all have), and I feel a small (very small) sense of satisfaction when I realize my instinct was spot on.

Now, ready or not I’m about to share with you a much bigger premonition—one that some of you may have yourselves. I’m daring to predict The Day The Internet Goes Down. I won’t go so far as to say when it’s going to happen, but I feel like it has to happen at some point, yes? Like any black out that cripples a city of lights or Recession that puts the gods of greed back in their place (. . .ideally). The Universe has a way of yanking us humans out of our comfort zone just when we start to relax and think we don’t have a care in the world. And haven’t we become a little too reliant on the Internet? We shop on it. We do our banking on it. We communicate on it. We watch movies / music videos / TV clips on it. We use it to spy on each other! I can’t help but think this virtual carpet has to be pulled out from underneath use at some point. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think it’ll last forever—maybe 24 – 48 hours. Just long enough for everyone to panic and then remember that we lived without this mechanism once, and we can do it again. Then they’ll get it back up and running.

As far as overusing the Internet, I’m guilty as charged. That’s why this piece in Salon “Stop the Internet, I Want to get Off” resonated with me before I began reading. Even when I don’t want to use the Internet, I inadvertently do. I log on to do one thing—such as check my e-mail. Then I spot a news story and it hyperlinks to another news story, and then I remember I wanted to see the new Britney Spears video so I watch that and then I remember I still have to get to my e-mail. But why don’t I stop by Facebook real quick first. When I arrive on the cyber-social scene, I find many of my friends have posted fascinating links that I simply must check out. Before I know it, I’ve lost two hours when I only wanted to sacrifice two minutes.

The Salon article introduces a new (free!) application for Macs only (sorry PC users) that allows you to turn your Internet off. It’s appropriately called Freedom. You tell the application not to let you online for an hour or two or five, and it’ll do that very thing. Only rebooting your computer will let you back online before the time is up. I’ve gladly downloaded Freedom but have yet to use it. I’ll test it out soon and let you know what I think. I already love the concept, and this is going to help me sharpen my “life without Internet” skills for the day it all goes down.

Freedom is an application that disables networking on an Apple computer for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom will free you from the distractions of the internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create. At the end of your selected offline period, Freedom re-enables your network, restoring everything as normal.

Download Freedom Here