Looming threats and the internet

By Stepha Poulin and By Stepha Poulin

Upon browsing through my Instagram Explore page yesterday, I saw a post that was hilarious but also surprised me. It said something like “have you noticed no one says BRB anymore? We basically live on the internet now.”

I thought back to the last time I said “BRB” (be right back) over text, or any messaging platform for that matter. I think I’ve said the term more in real life than online. But what does this say about humanity and our relationship to the internet?

To me, it suggests that the internet is becoming an integral part of everyday life. This may seem obvious, but the extent to which people rely on the internet is only growing. People worry about nukes hitting our major cities; however, an enemy destroying our internet access could crumble American society at its web-based core.

The average teenager cries when they just misplace their phone for a few minutes. Imagine what would happen if the internet web was inaccessible. Teenagers whining would be the least of our problems.

First, if an enemy were to use an electromagnetic pulse bomb (EMP), all electrical systems would be fried – including the internet. The only way for electronics to survive an EMP is to be placed in a faraday cage during the bombing. The faraday cage acts as a barrier to block electromagnetic waves from damaging electronics.

It’s highly impractical to have a car in a faraday cage, though. Today, people would have to have their entire house in a faraday cage, considering how many electronics we rely on. But sadly, the entirety of U.S. infrastructure can’t be kept in one.

During an EMP attack, planes would fall out of the sky. Cars driving along the highway would suddenly stop working. Hospitals would have thousands of patients die, especially those relying on machinery to stay alive.

If this were to happen during school, children would be completely separated from their parents, with no plan in action to get them home. Teachers would be forced to choose between caring for their students and getting home to their family.

In terms of communication and broadcasting, nearly everything would be damaged beyond repair. Your cell phone, computer and tablet would be useless.

The scariest thing about our reliance on electronics is the fact our water supply could be threatened. According to the University of California, Santa Barbara, only eight municipalities supply about 82 percent of the drinking water in the U.S.

In other words, if an EMP were to target a water treatment facility, many people would die of thirst. Those who can find liquids to drink may die from waterborne illnesses.

As a whole, the internet is the library of the 21st century. It has the potential to completely evolve humanity, but our sudden reliance on it could cause issues.

Technology is evolving at a much faster rate than human beings. Stop and ask yourself how your life could be affected by losing all electronics, and think of a plan to survive. While the internet has become a necessity, we shouldn’t forget about life before being constantly linked to the web.