Twenty-five years ago the WWW was born. A quarter of a century.
Yet there are still times when this modern miracle simply doesn’t work. In the past week we’ve had access for only about 6 hours. 25 years ago, when it all first began this kind of connectivity would have seemed miraculous – now it is just annoying.
If we wanted to order plane tickets. We would have to go all the way into town. (We don't, but we might have wanted to.)
We do however want to contact someone in France, but their address is in my e-mails , which I cannot access. So, I can neither write to them nor phone them without a great deal of detective work.
We also want to say happy birthday, so we have to go to the shop, buy a card, buy a stamp, and do it all several days ahead.
Worst of all, I want to get on with my college course, but I can’t even find out what it is I’m supposed to be doing.
I also work from home, but I can't contact any of my clients. As my daughter’s teacher used to say, I am so frustrated that smoke is coming out of my ears.
Don't get me wrong, modern technology is amazing. The fact is that only yesterday I was able to, well at least for a few hours, watch a television programme from South America, contact some old friends, answer an invitation, make arrangements for a visit and all the rest. Of course I could always play Solitaire whilst I'm waiting for the line to be fixed.
Last night I was talking to a ten-year-old. There was a large box of books someone was giving away. One of them was a book of board games and I thought she might be interested in it. Heidi however looked quite shocked when I suggested she might want to look at it.
“I don’t play those kind of games. I use the internet.”
I asked “What if the internet wasn’t working?”
“I‘d use my tablet.”
“You don’t believe in a world before the Internet do you?”
“No, of course not. Nothing important happened before the Internet.”
This is perhaps not everyone’s reaction, but it does show how important a few clicks have become. I remember when our local council’s internet was compromised - they were off line on and off for ten weeks, but the real problem with that was that they were no longer capable of coping with the people who came in person.
It was early summer when this began and lots of children didn’t know which senior school they were going to. There were students going off to university, but when they came to collect the necessary forms they just weren't available. It was a very reluctant clerk that I eventually persuaded to print off a paper form for my daughter, having already been shunted from office to office. All the time she was muttering ‘People do this on line nowadays’ despite the fact that we were already several weeks into the problem.
It might seem to 10 year olds that the internet is the be all and end all, and yet, even though it is so pervasive, an awful lot of things do go on without it. People plant flowers and fruit and vegetables, they make clothes, cook meals, breed animals, just as they always have done. People get married, babies are born, grow up and in time will die, all without any help, or hindrance, from the internet.
The fact is we can manage without it, but I'll be honest, I’d rather not.