Editorial: An Internet scare

Those who don’t get their Internet with Cox Communications were the winners on Tuesday night. Those with Cox experienced a long Internet outage, and this was all across the country. In simplest terms, we came to realize how dependent our generation is on the Internet.

We saw just how critical of a role the web plays in our information infrastructure. People could not access Facebook, Twitter, Blackboard and their email. This outage clearly proved the old cliché, “You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.”

When the Internet was taken away from us for a night, it became just how scary life without the World Wide Web could be. No instant communication. No instant news updates. No posting of pointless Facebook statuses.

These are aspects of our life that we have become dependent on. When was the last time you wrote a letter? Probably answered before you got an email address. The idea of people writing letters seems so foreign and archaic to our generation, hence the slow and painful death of the U.S. Postal Service.

However, there is a scarier aspect to this technological nightmare. Cox never explained the outage to its customers. There was never a press release and the company operators were not helpful at all. Our lifeline was yanked out from under us with no explanation or reasoning.

It seems the Internet giant can get away with furtive business practices. Other than Qwest and a handful of other companies, the Internet market is not very competitive, giving several companies a stranglehold on such an important service.

However, this outage also showed us the power of smartphones. Many people found out about the Internet outage via their mobile Twitter app. Smartphones are now powerful enough to act as a surrogate, or even primary, source of Internet.

Between Androids, iPhones and their copycats, the world is more mobile than ever. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to wonder what would happen if we experienced a similar outage with our mobile Internet.

The world is more connected than ever, and this trend will continue. Things will become even more instantaneous through mediums that we can’t even imagine.

Tuesday night showed us, unfortunately, we might have put all our eggs in one basket. Everything from shopping to politics is moving online. It does not look like this trend will slow down at all.

The allure of the Internet is that so much can be done from one location. But what happens when that is taken away?

We found out this week, and we have reason to be concerned.
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