It’s Wednesday. If you’re a bespectacled Kiwi, this means that ‘tonight is the night that we make love’. But I’m not in New Zealand. In fact, I’ve never even been, despite it effectively being a giant country-shaped rugby stadium in the middle of the sea. Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom in Oxford. Well, when I say “sitting” I actually mean “crouching in the corner of a dark room wearing a coat hanger covered in tinfoil for a hat, gibbering poppycock about the Wars of the Roses to the wall”. Why, you ask? Why is this otherwise entirely sane gentleman of repute acting in such a way that might have him mistaken for a rabid Justin Bieber fan?
I’ll tell you, but ONLY you. You see, the Internet did it.
Cast your minds back, if you will, to the dim and distant past. The internet was in its infancy. Facebook, Twitter and the seminal Roundabout Appreciation Society hadn’t even been roughly conceived in the back of a Ford Transit yet. And, across the world, perplexed parents are speaking to their mothers on their landline telephones, when suddenly “BRRRRRRRRRRR…EEEEEEEEEEEEE….B-DN B-DN B-DN” – a noise that could only be described as similar to what happens when Q*BERT flushes the toilet after a long day lighting up cubes drowns out their fawning agreements and tiresome eye-rolling. It’s happened. Their children are connecting to “The World Wide Web”, futuristic land of pixellated paedophiles and pornography involving wallpaper and horses. “Say it ain’t so!” they cry. But so it was. And is. And forever shall darn well be. Thankfully, they just sigh, apologise, reach for the plug and…..”click”. Silence. Disconnected.
So there was a time, you see, when the www’s and the http’s could be rationed. It was considered a routine request that the internet be “disconnected” so that homework could be completed, chores done or pets fed. However, let’s fast-forward a few years to the present day and try and conceptualise the same request, as presented to today’s snarling, square-eyed picture of youth. I believe it would go something like this:
Father: “Mike, it’s time for tea! Come downstairs and… OH MY GOD… I…er…I…”
Son: “Dad! Oh my God, what are you doing! You can’t just come… I was, er… I was just looking at this…er…”
Father: “OK OK OK, enough, I’ll be, er…. just… tea’s ready, come downstairs please”
Son: “OK just… SHUT THE DOOR! I’ll, yeah, OK…”
Not a pretty picture.
I digress. The point is that the internet is omnipresent, omnipotent, omnivorous; it literally devours everything it touches – meat or vegetable. Everything that was once perfectly happy living a 3-dimensional, oxygen-breathing life has now been absorbed into “the all-powerful internet”, a place so backward that it contains sites where “following” people is encouraged rather than illegal. Books are online, jobs are online, I even overheard my family talking about taking my Grandmother offline the other day. I was incensed. How dare they upload members of my own family without even informing me?! Is she available on USB? Can I “share” her with my friends? So many questions…
All this madness brings about the question: what happens if, amongst this, you suddenly find yourself deprived of the internet for a length of time?
And so I bring you back to my current reality, chewing on nails and spiders’ legs while shivering under a blanket made of my own toenail clippings. Ladies and Gentlemen, I HAVE NO INTERNET. If I say this in public, I imagine I will be stared at while mothers usher their children away from me and preachers flick stagnant water over my face. I am impure! Unclean! Disconnected from the internet; disconnected from life. It isn’t fair. Imagine what would have happened if Jack Bauer had said “Chloe! I need satellite coverage of the hostile’s vehicle NOW!” and he had got the reply: “Sorry Jack, Internet’s down. Apparently someone from Virgin Media will be round in two Monday’s time, between 1 and 6 and can she have the first line of your address and postcode, please?”
I need help.
Missing: One “Internet”.
Size: Both minuscule and unfathomably huge.
Answers to: “BRRRRRRRRRRR…EEEEEEEEEEEEE….B-DN B-DN B-DN”
REWARD: MY ETERNAL GRATITUDE AND (WHAT IS LEFT OF) MY FRAGILE SANITY
You know where to find me.