Internet, the most important invention of all times, as people say, has revolutionized communications and methods of commerce around the world. Internet usage has tremendously grown over the years and is the cheapest mode of global connectivity for a common man and a new platform for various businesses and entrepreneurs to endorse their products globally, regardless of the location.
With almost 4.4 billion active users (as of April 2019), which is nearly 58 percent of the global population, the internet is a core pillar of the digital world. The escalating smartphone market has also increased the growth and usage of the internet.
We are continuously spinning around the web, from the minute we wake up early in the morning to when we sleep at night. The Internet has changed the way we socialize, do businesses, banking, shopping, and many other things. The Internet, more than any other invention of recent times, has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.
"The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life". These words from Andrew Brown, describe the current scenario more appropriately.
What if the internet suddenly collapses forever?
We have grown so used to the internet that we simply can't think of a life without it. From using applications to track health to broadcasting social life and relationships in social media, everything is just revolving in and around the internet. Before imagining the "no internet" situation, let's take a quick look at key highlights of Global Digital Report 2019:
- The number of active internet users worldwide in 2019 is 4.437 billion
- The total number of active mobile internet users in 2019 is 4.031 billion
- The number of active social media users worldwide in 2019 is 3.499 billion
- The number of mobile social media users worldwide is 3.429 billion
In today's hyper-connected world it would be extremely difficult if the internet suddenly vanishes. No internet means no social media, no online shopping, no e-transactions, and no access to information, more specifically, Google and other search engines. Imagine visiting banks frequently to make even most basic transactions as ATMs won't function, online banking would no more be an option.
Life without the internet - the impact
Internet strongly influences economic growth rates of under-developed, developing and developed economies around the world. From tiny to large, every kind of business today can have a global presence. Also, e-commerce or online trading has become an integral part of businesses in the digital era. In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021, according to a report by Statista.
E-commerce businesses are the one that will suffer the most during an internet blackout. Additionally, sectors such as tourism, IT services and the media industry that are heavily dependent on the internet will also be badly affected.
Image Credit: Pixabay
To understand the economic impact, we can take an idea from short internet outages in India. According to an ICIER report, during the period 2012 to 2017:
- 16315 hours of Internet shutdown in India cost the economy approximately USD 3.04 billion
- 12615 hours of mobile Internet shutdowns in India cost the economy approximately USD 2.37 billion
- 3700 hours of mobile and fixed-line Internet shutdowns in India cost the economy approximately USD 678.4 million
- The average estimate of hourly loss for India over the various shutdowns is USD 186,332.
Now we can imagine the loss, in term of economic value, the internet would cause if it breaks down.
Information and Communication services
Internet was invented essentially to provide global access to data and communication, anytime and anywhere. From e-mail to WhatsApp, instant messaging has changed the way we connect, share ideas and interests worldwide. Social media networks have revolutionized the way we engage and communicate ideas. Life without the internet is strange to imagine, we would have to resort to traditional ways of communication if it collapses.
Emerging technologies coupled with the internet are fueling digital transformation drive around the world. Internet of Things (IoT), which means an extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects, is paving the road to autonomous age (advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, etc). Without the Internet, autonomous age will no more be a reality.
Image Credit: Flickr
The Internet has altered every sphere and facet of our lives, be it social, educational, professional or political. It has changed our lives for so many good reasons but it is also a platform where the security and privacy of our data have always been questioned. In recent times, we have seen many cases of data breaches, cyber-attacks, cyberbullying, phishing, etc. Furthermore, criminals exploit social media to rapidly distribute false news and other forms of misinformation.
Although the internet is not going to go down anytime soon, if it does the world would change drastically.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)