It’s amazing to think, but a little over twenty years ago none of us were connected even remotely like we are now. The internet has changed the way we live beyond all comprehension – it’s changed the way we do business, the way we socialize and make friends, it helps us do our shopping, find our way round – it’s even helped us find love.
Can you possibly even imagine what the world would be like if the internet were suddenly taken away? Well, the people at OnlineEducation.net did exactly that. And what they imagined was not pretty. They stumbled across a bleak, empty world, devoid of almost every tool that makes our lives easier – no more Facebook for sharing with friends, no more Google for research, no more eBay for shopping, no more online games for entertainment. Could it possibly be any worse? You bet.
OnlineEducation.net’s infographic outlines the awesome reach of the internet and the number of lives it directly affects. Since 2002, the number of worldwide internet users has quadrupled to some 2.3 billion people – that’s just under a third of all the people in the world who are now connected, with access to almost unlimited information and the ability to instantly communicate with any of the other billions of internet users in a heartbeat.
Now what if that capability is suddenly taken away from them?
According to Pingdom’s Internet 2011 in Numbers, there were other 107 trillion emails sent last year – which means that’s precisely 107 trillion messages that would have to be carried in some other way, most likely by mail. In America alone, the cost of this is estimated at some $6.3 trillion per year.
Take away the internet and you take away our jobs. In the US, over 1.2 million people are employed directly by the internet – such companies as Facebook, Google and of course, our very own SiliconANGLE exist only because of the World Wide Web. And then there are all the website designers, SEO experts, freelance writers and others whose income depends entirely on being able to access the net.
But it gets worse than that – for each internet job indirectly supports another 1.54 jobs elsewhere in the economy, including everyone from the guy making your laptops to the technician who comes to install your broadband connection. All in all, that’s 3.05 million jobs washed down the drain.
Perhaps the biggest change of all if the internet were to disappear would be the political landscape, and not just in the US but across the world. The internet has helped political activists to foster support in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. Witness the Arab Spring in Egypt, where crowds of 90,000 were able to organize themselves and unseat a thirty-year old dictatorship in just two weeks.
Of course, it’s not only in the Middle East where the internet has had such a dramatic impact. Here in the US, the Occupy protests, which were borne of the internet and saw the mobilization of thousands of protestors across America’s cities, simply wouldn’t have happened.
Until the birth of the internet, the spread of information was in the hands of a select few – now, it’s in the hands of all of us. The world would be a whole lot worse off should that ever change.