Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unplugged: A World Without the Internet

     Considering life today without the luxury of instant online news and entertainment is an exceptionally difficult challenge that may seem akin to a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. In her book Media Impact, Biagi (2015) speculates that “new medium or a new delivery system does not mean the end of the world” (p. 181). But how the world would be impacted by the loss of a now critical medium proposes an intriguing problem. The Internet has given humans more ways to advance as a civilization in a shorter time frame than would otherwise have been possible. While some opponents of the digital age criticize its impact on human relationships, the benefits of a connected world far outweigh any disadvantage of such an alternative reality.

     Mass media has had to constantly evolve and adapt to new technologies throughout history; today that evolution involves the Internet—the increasingly popular medium in which a growing portion of the population is turning to. The Internet is fundamentally an enormous network of computers that distributes data instantly across a wired world. According to the telecommunications marketing research and consulting firm TeleGeography (2016), there are about 550,000 miles of underwater fiber optic cables, also known as “submarine cable systems”. The lifeblood of the Internet depends on these arteries to deliver instant communication that has fueled the modern evolution of mass media. Today’s consumption of news and email are the most common uses of the Internet. There are countless websites offering every imaginable news topic that consumers could ever hope to read. Instant collaboration through email is an advantage in a capitalistic economy where trades and exchanges happen quickly; thus, candid observations reveal that life without the Internet would become increasingly more difficult.

     While the dynamics of mass media consumption over the Internet have changed the delivery methods, the types of medium that command the most importance would also evolve to a digital-less world. Since the growth of digital media, some have speculated that printed medium will eventually disappear. However, Biagi (2015) explained that book sales have been unaffected by the digital age, primarily due to publishers adapting their marketing strategies to include digital versions (p. 181). Because books remained a popular choice among consumers, it is not difficult to imagine that trend continuing without the internet. Another example that remains incredibly popular is television. The digital age has transformed the way some people access television as more choose to cut ties with cable providers in favor of streaming services online. Take the Internet away and television consumption would easily revert back to television guides and channel surfing.

     There is no question that the Internet provides clear benefits for civilization; however, some critics dispute that claim. Lehrer (2011) criticized the published work of Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., who said “we have ‘invented ways of being with people that turn them something close to objects’ ” (Lehrer, 2011, para. 6). Such opponents of the Internet often cite that human relationships are negatively impacted because technology allows people to avoid the stress of interpersonal relationships. However, the online environment has made it easier for us to communicate with people all over the world. Consider the role of the Internet in events like the Arab Spring, which successfully used social media to organize a revolution against human injustice. Such benefits confirm that the Internet has become an invaluable technological, social, and cultural tool that has forever reshaped the world and offered greater advantages over any disadvantage raised by critics.


Biagi, S. (2015). Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media (11th ed.). Stamford, CT:       Cengage Learning.

Lehrer, J. (2011, January 21). [Review of the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from      Technology and Less from Each Other, by S. Turkle]. The New York Times, p. BR15.

TeleGeography. (2016, February). Telecom Resources. Submarine Cable Map. Retrieved from       https://www.telegeography.com/telecom-resources/submarine-cable-map/index.html

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