Date First Published: 3rd October 2023
Topic: Computer Networking
Subtopic: Network Services
Difficulty Level: 2/10
Learn about what would happen if the internet stopped working in this article. This is the 800th article.
It is almost impossible that the internet would ever stop working or collapse. The internet is a group of connected computers all around the world with no on/off switch. It is not owned or controlled by a person, a group of people, an organisation, or a government.
Without the internet, life would be inefficient and slow. A world without the internet seems very difficult to imagine now. If the internet stopped working, it would have a massive impact on nearly all aspects of daily life. Due to the popularity of the internet, nearly everyone would be affected by it. This article is about what would happen if the internet did stop working and the impacts of it.
Without the internet, the most negative impact is that every single website would be offline, making them inaccessible. This means that the World Wide Web would no longer exist. Without any form of websites, there would be no ecommerce, online learning, blogs, online news, search engines, or online reviews.
Without any websites or ecommerce, there is much less chance of a brand being recognised and built, making it much harder to get new customers. Businesses would have to return to selling products in physical stores, which would be more expensive, due to rent costs. Due to more physical stores, there would be much more people travelling.
Streaming services, like Netflix, would also stop working. Without any streaming, it would be impossible to access any films online and people would have to go to the cinemas to watch films. Cinemas would be full of people.
No internet access would change the way people learn. People would not be able to learn anything online and would have to return to learning everything using pen, paper and books. Bookstores would be full of books.
Without the internet, there would be no online banking or any form of online payment. Services, like PayPal, would close down instantly and there would be no cryptocurrency, making Bitcoin useless. All financial markets, including stock markets, bond markets, derivatives markets, and commodities markets, would experience problems and very likely close without the internet.
Without any online payment, debit and credit card transactions would not be possible, so people would want to get their money out of the bank. With so many people withdrawing money from their banks, they will run out of cash, making it impossible for everyone to withdraw their money. It is very likely that this will result in large protests.
All forms of online communication, including social media, email, instant messaging, and virtual meetings would stop functioning. To communicate with people far away, you would have to go back to writing letters and sending them via post, slowing down global communication. With so many people using paper to communicate, paper consumption will increase.
A landline phone can be used without an internet connection because it uses a separate technology, called POTS. But, even phone lines may stop functioning because they also depend on the internet's facilities.
It is not possible to get live updates for software and operating systems without an internet connection. Instead, you would have to buy an external storage drive from the developer, like a CD or USB flash drive, which contains the files to update the software or operating system. This would be more expensive and time-consuming. As a result, it is more likely to leave users with an outdated version of the software and operating system, which could leave them vulnerable to security risks and delay them from accessing the latest features.
Getting information and answers to questions you have would be much harder and more time-consuming without the internet. It would not be possible to look anything up online using search engines, like Google and Bing. You would have to rely on books, newspapers, TV, and other printed resources to find answers to your questions and find out the latest news, increasing paper consumption. The key capability of the internet (offering information to people all around the world) would be gone.
Companies that heavily rely on the internet, like Google and Amazon would become obsolete instantly and go out of business. Some may still be able to function without the internet, but still see large sections of their operations disappear. Remote work and web-based jobs would also disappear, forcing people to return to office-based work. This would cause millions of people to lose their jobs, leaving them unemployed. The unemployment rate would be very high. However, companies that don't have much of a presence on the internet would not be affected as much.
All online file transfers, online downloads, and cloud computing would stop, making it more difficult to transfer files. You would need a physical storage device to transfer files to different users, such as a USB flash drive, an external hard drive, or a DVD. You may need a physical cable connection between two computers. With so many people using physical storage devices to share data and distribute films, music, and songs, the manufacturing of them will increase.
It would not be possible to access all TV channels without the internet. Any TV channels that require the internet to access them would be lost. Instead, you would need a cable box or antenna to receive local channels. With an antenna, you could still receive television programming transmitted by broadcast towers. However, if the satellite and cable systems failed, you would lose access to the channels and TV stations.
A large part of economic activity relies on the internet and it is vital for economic growth. If the internet stopped working, it would result in severe economic consequences. It is believed that online sales and ecommerce as a percentage of total retail sales are over 15%. Brands that rely on the internet for advertising would also be affected as their online presence would disappear and would have to return to advertising in newspapers and magazines.
Without any ecommerce, online sales, or digital marketing, it would result in an instant recession, with no easy way to bounce back due to the loss of money and massive decline in economic activity. Most industry sectors rely on the internet for sales. Some industries, like cloud computing and cybersecurity, cannot function without it. Developed countries would suffer more due to their heavy reliance on the internet. However, some countries may not suffer from as many losses as others because they do not rely on the internet as much.
A collapse of the internet would greatly affect the gaming industry. All multiplayer games would stop and it would no longer be possible to download any games from the internet onto your device. The only way to play games with multiple people would be to have them physically play in the room with you. Users would certainly lose access to some games that operate online.
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