We all know of the DDOS attack. We have all seen people make fun of it by acting as if it wasn’t a big deal because people survived just fine without the internet. We have all seen people point out that these days the internet is used by the government, banks, hospitals, companies and professional workers, so that if the internet stopped working for good countless people would lose their jobs and some would even die.
And that’s a true and fine argument.
But the way both anti-internet and pro-internet people dismiss social network and personal use of e-store sites as unimportant, so that the latter only ever bother defending the political and economical value of the internet, is starting to really annoy the hell out of me.
I feel like a lot of the people who think life was just fine and dandy without the internet did not experience growing up in a shitty town where you had little to no access to nonconventional material and where your nonconventional interests and personality made you a prime target for bullying.
For me, the internet brought a revelation: “oh my God, I’m not the only one.”
If the internet disappeared, I’d lose my best friend, who lives in a different continent and who has been chatting with me almost single every day for the past 7 years. I’d lose my other close friends, who live in other countries and whom I’ve known for almost 15 years.
I’d also lose access to my hobbies, things that make me happy.
Because companies that produce indie comics and videogames can’t afford to have them made as physical goods, and rely on sites like Steam and Comixology to distribute them at low cost. Even when a company is big and doing well, they are extremely reluctant to support anything that does not have mainstream appeal, so that they only agree to offer any kind of support if that atypical thing proves very popular with digital sales first (for example: Muslim girl of colour Miss Marvel was pushed to the spotlight in Marvel comics specifically because her series, which had received virtually no advertisement and fairly low retail sales, had incredible digital sales).
Because the shows I enjoy were often either not shown at all in my country, or shown only once at insane times (for example, the final seasons of Buffy were shown once, at 1:30 am. You got work or university in the morning and need to sleep? Tough! If you can’t stay up until 2:30 am you can’t see how the story ends!)
Hell, even books by famous international authors like Terry Pratchett were virtually ignored in my country until recently! Good Omens (1990 novel) was translated for the first time in 2007. I read it in English as a teen, but I doubt I would have been able to buy a book in English without the internet, our local book stores certainly didn’t let you order books from abroad.
Without the internet, I would have been a hell of a lot more miserable.
And I’m saying all this as a physically healthy straight cis white woman, the only things that caused my peers to bully and isolate me were my atypical interests and personality. How much worse would it have been if I had been queer? Disabled? Part of a tiny racial minority?
It would be nice if people stopped acting as if the ability to find and connect with other people like you and to access the things you love is not a HUGE DEAL.