Last February, I saw the city that never stops working come to a screeching, snowy halt for about two weeks when 3 feet of snow was dumped on it. It was surreal, like from some zombie movie where only the remaining survivors roam the streets searching for familiar faces, booze and the one restaurant with the balls to open. I remember walking in the middle of Wisconsin Avenue, a very popular street here, and nodding at my fellow survivors treck through the slush to my apartment 3 miles away. It felt nice having time stop and not worry about rushing to the next school function, work event or social activity. It was mutually understood that everyone was going to hibernate for a while, at least until the metros started working again.
Although most of us couldn’t physically leave the house for two weeks, it turns out life didn’t stop because one thing sure as hell worked and kept things going: The Internet. We had two classes online (meaning I still had to get up early and focus for a few hours), projects were still due, I was still expected to write, and communication continued between friends. Except for the occasional trek to the nearby grocery store, I was essentially glued to my computer for company (I was living alone at the time), entertainment and work during Snowpocalypse 2010. But last Friday, another inconvenience came about that beat snowpocalypse. Not only did it inspire some of my coworkers to go home early or not even come in, but it literally halted business and made it so we had no choice but to read, do menial tasks, eat and socialize until life started again.
Last friday, the Internet, Intranet, and Outlook all crashed for 8 hours. Most of those hours, nobody was here. But I was.
I get into work at the wee hour of 7:30 every day, so I was among the first to notice something was wrong. Keep in mind that my entire job revolves around the Internet and the ability to use it. I went around and asked everyone if it was happening to them, contacted IT, and stared at the frozen hourglass until the rest of the crew came in. I was frustrated that I came in early so I could leave early, but ended up having to stay late to play catchup. The interns were thrilled because that meant they could have long lunches and an early Friday. For those of us who’s work didn’t magically disappear when the Internet died, we had to stay late and make up for lost time. But that’s besides the point.
It was funny to me that the effects of the Internet and email dying were far worse than 3 feet of snow towering over the District of Columbia. We all felt disconnected, useless, lost and purposeless without it. But during the snowstorm, there was a frenzie on Twitter, everyone was glued to their computers (what else would they be doing? Shoveling their cars out of their driveways to be met with a mountain of snow in the street?). It just goes to show how important the Internet is to running a business. We’re a think tank, so it’s not like the company necessarily revolves around the web like other companies do. And yet, life stopped that morning more so than being snowed in last February.
I’m also realizing just how dependent I am on the Internet to run my life. When I go to work, I am at the computer for close to 11 hours. I come home, and I’m online again doing my social media, talking to friends and Skyping with my boyfriend. I go to sleep, wake up, and am strapped to the computer again. I even got the new iPhone (YAY), to which my mom commented, “that’s not a phone, that’s a mini-computer.” Soon, I’ll become a robot.
What does it mean that life stops when the Internet dies? What does it mean that my life has revolved around the Internet?