Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

They called it “the reckoning.” The cause of it was one senator, whose name I have since forgotten, decided that this one thing was no longer necessary. People were outraged at the decision. Some of them claimed their freedoms were lost while others had felt liberated from the chains that had pulled them in front of their screens. Two groups of people were immediately formed from the event: the ilifs and the mees.

The sudden production of every service provider halted as if they were cars on a highway that slammed into a brick wall simultaneously. There was no way they could move further or slow down in time – they essentially stopped existing. Every search engine or social media site died instantly. The finance industry was no longer available and people were unable to make any transactions whether it was depositing money or withdrawing money. Many stores and restaurants paused business for a few days as they switched solely to cash transactions. Some of them took weeks while others took months. The credit card machines would no longer send signals outside their business walls, so the necessity of credit cards ceased.

The ilifs were the ones who returned to the restaurants as soon as possible. They were able to adjust a lot easier to the new world than the mees. The mees generally stayed in their homes, praying that the reckoning was a prank as they stared blankly at their televisions and phones hoping that they would magically work. Some were able to adjust better than others as they dusted off their favorite board games hidden in their cabinets. They miraculously found their way to their friends from memory as their favorite map applications were no longer available.

Even the functions of basic societal needs stopped for a few months: traffic light signals, trains, street lights. Thankfully, electricity, gas, and water were still useable. Though, at times they were inconsistent. Those in the trade jobs were typically ilifs. They were able to continue plumbing, electrical work, and the like. Their adjustment to a new society was much easier than mees like me who worked on websites for a living.

My job became obsolete the day that the senator decided to turn off the internet. I decided to go out for the day and checked my phone for the weather, but it was blank. I was about to step outside to determine whether or not I needed a coat or not, so I’d look at my phone again to no avail. I was caught in an eternal loop. I’d ask Siri to tell me my schedule for the day and to search for a recipe for breakfast and it ceased its usefulness. I threw those speakers right in the trash and cooked some poached eggs over a slice of colby cheese and bread.

The ilif’s, which is a pronounced way of saying ILF – or I Love Freedom – were people who embraced the decision. They threw away their phones and walked right outside. They were the first people occupying the hiking trails, ski lifts, bike paths, and fishing spots the following weeks. Then, there were the mees, which was the pronunciation for MHI – or Must Have Internet. The mees spent days, sometimes weeks, in despair.

I was a mixture of the two. I transitioned from a mee to an ilif early on, but I always was a mixture of a person that enjoyed both the internet and internet-free days. My entire life was digitized, though: photos had been on the cloud, all payments were electronic, bills were paid electronically, and, of course, my job. The day after my job ended, I found myself walking right outside and hiking in a beautiful valley surrounded by red rocks. I ate lunch afterward at a nearby restaurant and then went home for a nap. When I woke up, I remembered that I had an older gaming system that didn’t require any internet connectivity and proceeded to dust it off and play it for another few hours before bed.

Over the following weeks, I came to a sudden reality: life was quiet. There wasn’t any news telling me what was going on since they all relied on a sophisticated network of information. The days of the latest Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook trends, hashtag this and hashtag that, are gone. I’ve been searching for a new job in a more manual labor market, but the only job that seems to be available are department stores or restaurants. I remembered my passion for music years ago and have been trying to find audio engineering jobs. The reliance on walking to stores or newspaper job boards has been a strange shift from simply applying online. Now, I had to either mail in my resume or walk into the building holding my resume.

Netflix went back to the mail-order DVDs it had decades ago before they were known as a streaming service. Video game sections grew in electronic stores, as did the rentals through the mail that I thought completely disappeared, but had seemingly hung on by a thread. Netflix’s network hubs in every state became warehouses filled with discs. I was lucky my previous gaming system supported DVDs.

Yet, I still carried my cell phone around. If nothing else, it was a useful clock that was rather accurate. It had a built-in compass that relied on GPS plus other applications like the calculator still had their uses. Obviously, there were no updates or ability to download new ones, so I was stuck with existing ones.

A year has gone by and the news has started to reappear for those of us who have antenna setup. The radio signals still work, but they had to rebuild their systems to avoid any internet usage as they did decades prior. But, the most fascinating thing is that the people chose to keep the internet off after a vote with the exception of businesses. While certain great websites like Wikipedia disappeared completely, we had libraries still and they became more full than ever before utilizing it and scientific studies for information. Everything you could search for on the internet was approved by scientists in their respected fields.

The days of social media had completely disappeared for good. While the finance industry returned to electronic transfers, the interfaces customers used were removed and they had to visit the banks to perform any transactions. Credit cards had disappeared as well, though cryptocurrency became king for cashless transactions. This is where I found my next job. The labor market wouldn’t accept me, but the infrastructure of cryptocurrency exchange needed people like me. Though, in my downtime, I could no longer browse the web as there was nothing to browse. Instead, I found myself reading books.

Writing Prompt # 4

The Internet is shut down for an entire year.