20 Things We Can Look Forward to After the Digital Apocalypse

What would the world look like if the internet disappeared?

By Jill Layton

You may have noticed that a massive malicious hack took down huge swaths of the internet recently. People in many parts of the US were unable to access sites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix, and Airbnb (along with many other sites).

You're Off the Hook—in One Sense

No, it wasn't user error—you're not to blame. Instead, the internet was hacked. That's right, someone attacked a key part of the internet's infrastructure, which caused websites to completely shut down.

The attack targeted Dyn, a company that helps people connect to websites. The service it provides is called the Domain Name System, which is basically like a phone book for the internet. Without it, users (mostly on the east coast) were left to fend for themselves in an internetless world this morning—at least intermittently until the problem was fixed. But for many people, intermittent access to the internet is like occasional access to oxygen.

Without certain websites, life goes on, of course, but in a different way. We can't help but wonder, what would life be like if the internet couldn't be fixed and an actual digital apocalypse occurred? It would mean humans would be without internet indefinitely.

As nauseating and hard as it is to imagine such a world, it's a real possibility. And though life would probably in some ways revert to what it was like before computers, that might not be the worst thing that could happen.

Here are 20 things that could happen if the internet suddenly disappeared (but seriously, let's hope it never does).

20. Your kids will start reading books on paper again

Current Configuration

Remember actual real-life books—portable, wireless, good for starting fires? Well, instead of reading books on a smartphone, iPad, Nook, or Kindle, your kids will have to physically pick up books composed of genuine paper and ink. It'll be like when we were kids, only with wayyyy more options.

19. Everyone will spend more time outside

Courier Post Online

People will be bored. There will be fewer distractions and fewer flashy things to look at. In an internetless world, you'll go outside to do things you've always thought about doing, but never got around to doing because it was nearly impossible to disconnect yourself from the internet. Fresh air! Imagine that.

18. You'll have to find some way to get shoes that doesn't involve Zappos

Kinder Transport

Zappos may have free shipping and free returns, but so do shoe stores. Remember them—places where you can try shoes on before buying them? It's a luxury you may scarcely remember.

17. You'll have polite, in-person disagreements

Stories of World

It's hard to imagine telling someone face-to-face that you're friendship is over because of the stupid thing they just said about the person you're voting for—the trigger for a lot of nastiness on social media. Without Facebook, people are more likely to discuss disagreements with mutual respect—or at least with a thin veneer of civility. This is why sightings of trolls in the real world are about as frequent as sightings of leprechauns, whereas online they're as common as muck.

16. Your kids will learn how to use the phone book

Earth 911

Ah, the phone book. When we were kids, we made a serious effort to memorize as many numbers as possible, simply to avoid having to open and search through the world's biggest and most boring book. Once the internet is dead, your kids will either have to learn to use the white pages or get used to a life without friends.

15. Buying magazines will be a thing again

Arena UK

If you want some great fall recipe ideas, or if you want to learn how to DIY a garden, you'll have to go to the store or newsstand and pick up a magazine. No more apps, no more Google. You'll be on your own, folks. Now if only there were still magazines out there...

14. You'll practice patience

Sylvia Browder

Not necessarily because you'll want to, but let's face it: You won't have a choice. Ordering deodorant, birthday gifts, or even dinner from the internet can yield results instantly. But when you order things from catalogs, well, don't hold your breath. Amazon Prime? Not anymore.

13. Laserdiscs—or at least DVDs—will be cool again

Screen Rant

Every movie ever made will cease to be available at your fingertips. If you want to watch a particular movie, you'll have to dust off your DVD collection—and honestly, it's about time you did that anyway. Can the triumphant return of Blockbuster be far away?

12. You'll make real-life photo albums of all your memories

The Brand Studio

You won't get as many "likes," but your memories will be in a tangible form that can be passed on from generation to generation. Plus, the people you don't want looking at your pictures won't be able to. It's a win/win, really.

11. Without GPS, your self-driving car will probably have to ask you for directions

How Did You Make This

You'll need to purchase an actual map—one of those confusing paper things that look like multicolored spiderwebs and are impossible to fold. At first, it'll take you a lot longer to get anywhere, but eventually you may learn how to decipher one. And in a worst-case scenario, you may even resort to rolling down your window and asking strangers for directions.

10. CDs will be the only way to hear the music you want

Property Room

Sure, radio stations will still exist, but how often does a radio station play music you want to hear? The solution: Go to a music store and buy compact discs. Or call the radio station to make a request, and then sit around hoping that the song will get aired.

9. USPS will no longer be in debt

One Part Sunshine

People will start sending letters again, and it will be beautiful. Your kids will enjoy the experience of running to the mailbox to find a letter waiting for them from their friends or grandparents. Long live snail mail!

8. Binge-watching TV shows will be a thing of the past

Life Hacker

Sorry, but you'll have to wait an entire week (or even longer) to see the next episode of your favorite show. But on the plus side you'll suddenly have 12 more hours in your day to do something productive.

7. You'll need to be at home to watch something live

Apple Magazine

No more DVRing anything. If you're going to watch a TV show, sporting event, or live performance, you'll have to do it at the same time as the rest of the country. But think of all the things you'll be able to do during the commercial breaks. And of course, you can always bring out your trusty VHS tape recorder.

6. Clocks will have to be adjusted manually


As annoying as it may be to physically change your clocks, at least you'll have good reason to remember that daylight savings time just kicked in or out.

5. The days of undercover stalking will be over

The Next Web

Social media profiles will no longer exist, so if you want to get to know someone, you'll have to make the effort in person. The flipside of that coin is that you won't be stalked either—which could qualify as an improvement, depending on how many embarrassing photos of you exist in the world.

4. Dating will become an in-person activity

MTL Blog

As reassuring as it may be to get to know someone over the internet before you meet in person, physical meetups can sometimes reveal more in a split second than hours of online interaction do.

3. Giving mix tapes will once again be a sign of true affection


Since no one else will have instant access to their favorite music anymore, you might as well make a mix tape for them. But do this only if you want them to fall in love with you or be your friend forever. Mix tapes are powerful.

2. You won't be bombarded with the news


Newspapers and news programs on TV will be your main source of news—and that means you'll be seeing the world through information windows that open only once or twice a day. The upside: Freeing your brain to focus on other important things—like anything other than politics.

1. Talking to your family at dinnertime will be easy

US Health News

Meals will proceed without technological distractions. In the resulting digital vacuum you'll reconnect with your family and discuss the happenings of the day. No one will have to say "no phones at the table," because what good are phones without internet anyway?

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