The Music in Noise

Be Less Internet Dependent - 2021-02-10

Recently I was studying for an exam. Normally I do this by downloading the material to my computer (typically PDF documents) so I can have access to it locally. I could most definitely simply view it in the university's web platform, but I've always found it more comfortable to have copies of these files on my computer. It was at this point that my brother wished to restart the router, saying he was having problems with the internet connection, which he needed to study for his own classes. In my case, I had not noticed any problems with the internet in the slightest, nor any disruption to my work flow. The reason is simple: I didn't need the internet for my work - or at least I needed it less. Once I had downloaded the PDF documents, they were on my computer and I could access them at any moment in time without reliance on a proper internet connection.

This anecdote got me thinking about how reliant we've become on the internet in general, especially normal computer users. We seem to be reluctant to keep files on our computers, opting instead to rely on foreign storage services (i.e. cloud storage) and streaming alternatives. This means, however, that our use of all these nodes of information (e.g. documents, songs, spreadsheets) depend completely on having access to a stable internet connection.

Now, it is undeniable that these presents certain conveniences over maintaining all our files on personal computers. Yet, like in any such system, it presupposes the proper functionality of all its components. That is, whereas to access a file on my computer I simply need to rely on my computer working properly and (at most) a good power source, to access files through an internet service one depends not only upon these, but also the entire framework and infrastructure where the data is hosted and everything in between. This, as is obvious, presents many vulnerabilities and makes a flaw in the system - and therefore a chance to experience a problem - ever more probable.

The problem, as one can imagine, is that even if we wish to avoid such dependency (as I do), our society does not mind forcing this dependency upon us. Rather, those who wish not to be dependent are viewed as strange and (even) masochistic. "Why are you trying to make your life more difficult?" one may hear. This results in all kinds of situations where, since those in charge of choosing the method of communication or the technologies used for a project will often choose that which is most convenient.

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