ANNOUNCEMENT: I will not have the Internet for a few days!!!
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I can still remember the whirr and click of the Internet dialing up when I was a kid. A 2 – 3 minute wait was great–what a fast connection!
It’s hard for me to remember the time before dial-up internet. Now it’s impossible for me to be off of it for more than an hour straight. What would happen to me working from out of the office if I didn’t have it? What old work methods would I have to learn?
The generation below me has grown up with the Internet since birth. Could any of them understand what life was like before that? I just barely experienced it. The computer/Internet came to our house when I was eight years old. We used it to print horribly ugly school projects. Ugly, because we over-experimented with all the color combinations and page border options in MS Word. Before that, I vaguely remember my sister’s red typewriter, which was maddening to use. One typo, and the page was ruined! And just this year, the last typewriter ink tapes were produced, bringing forth the end of an era of technology that had dominated since the first printing press.
The Age of Impatience
What I’d personally find difficult if the Internet were to disappear tomorrow would be how much the world would appear to slow down. I would have to buy a newspaper or turn on the TV to see what was happening. I’d have to make more phone calls. I’d have to start remembering people’s numbers, not email addresses. My house would be full of paper–menus for ordering in, business cards, a diary filled with dates and notes, bills, letters…
Waiting would be normal. Nowadays, waiting is almost unacceptable.
Without the Internet, what would Generation Y have to learn to use?
1. The postal service
Many postal services are being cut in my area despite the increase in online shopping. This means that receiving a letter from the local town council can take anywhere from three to ten days. A package can sometimes take two weeks. And it’s expensive! The joy of free emailing would turn into the frustration of paying many dollars for a registered envelope containing precious documents (after waiting for a substantial amount of time, usually).
- Pro tip: In a hurry? Express post! That would still take 24 hours. Just FYI.
2. Telephone meetings
Telephone conferencing would still be possible without the Internet, of course, but there would be no more free VOIP conference calls! A real, live telephone bill will appear at the end of each month. The upside is that the cost of the call may make your meetings more efficient. Global virtual teamwork is not as pleasant without the video connection and may not be as good for team building. In fact, this is why the culture of 9-5 in-office originated. Things were a lot easier in person before the existence of the web.
- Pro-tip: Your organizational skills will certainly be put to the test. Thinking ahead would be essential.
3. Searching and researching: libraries, books, archives (real ones!), filing cabinets, dictionaries, encyclopedias
Research? Try doing it without a search engine! This is where you start to appreciate the time and effort people put into their indexes and the wording of their titles when you are looking for the right information, and the diligence of whoever is in charge of the filing order. Search engines really have us spoiled. We even complain if we have to go past the first page of results!
- Pro-tip: Prepare very well what you are looking for in advance, in order not to waste hours of time reading irrelevant material
4. Reacting to content and giving your opinion
It would be close to crazy to have a fake identity or hidden identity in a letter correspondence. It could be done with an anonymous postbox, for sure, but casual commenting and the like would really not be feasible any more. Don’t get me wrong, people did (and do) write letters expressing their disagreement, approval or opinion with commentators, scientists, broadcasters, presenters and so on. However, quick-fire anonymous responding to others in the debate did not exist. Your knee-jerk reaction stayed firmly with you and only got discussed with those in your immediate vicinity.
- Pro-tip: Use this slower form of communication to really build a good argument for your point. If your going to write a letter about it, don’t let it just be “A well-written piece. Nice job.”
5. People skills
Following on from the last point, it’s pretty hard to be anonymous in your communications (except by blocking your phone number, of course, or removing yourself from the telephone directory). But as well as that, nobody can search your life history, old party pictures, previous tweets and job status without going to a lot of trouble. You have a lot more control over what people know about you. Mirroring that, you also have a lot less available info on the people and organizations you are dealing with.
- Pro-tip: Keep an open mind when getting to know new people. Don’t be bothered that you can’t spy on their LinkedIn profile or YouTube channel–it’s the same for them. Secrets are valuable and easier to hide. And if you’re worried about embarrassing photos, don’t dance on the table.
Yes, many more transactions would have to be dealt with in cold hard cash and many more trips to the bank would be required. Online payments would not exist–welcome back to reading out your credit card number over the phone! I personally find that when I use PIN to pay for groceries or buy online, I don’t feel as if I’m spending as much as when I hand over a $50 bill. I behave better financially when I use “real” money.
- Pro-tip: Use the opportunity to budget what cash you need for the week. You don’t want to wait in line at the bank every day. This system could result in much better money management by cutting spontaneous spending.
Could Gen Y handle it?
Sure! Humans are amazingly adaptable.
But they’d sure miss YouTube and Spotify!
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