Life Without Internet

“It is assumed that the whole world is wired, living in a state of electronic connectivity, and that’s just not the case. There are places in the world, such as much of southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in which internet access, computers, and even electricity are seriously scarce” (Chayko, n.d.). These two sentences at the beginning of Chayko’s book, Superconnected, was something that had completely slipped my mind until I read them. The way that people in our society has stayed connected over the last couple of years has dramatically evolved, in both good ways and bad ways. The way people communicate has changed as digital communication became more and more diverse has had an impact on our society. This has just become a matter of fact that I had forgotten that there is still places all over the globe that does not have access to the internet nor are they connected by this planetary wide imaginary web of communication. About 52 percent according to Chayko, live without internet connection as well as people within our own country. This is mostly due to social or cultural differences.

I have spent the last few years living on a college campus or near one where internet access is a must in order to complete assignments. It also becomes a must in staying connected with friends from all over the state. The internet let me stay in contact with my niece and nephews that lives two hours away, or with my high school friends who I love as though they are my own brothers. Of course, there was also a point in time where my new friends and I would be messaging each other through Facebook while we are literally in the same room of our college dorms. It was definitely an interesting time of my life adjusting to having all of this freedom at my disposal.

Whenever I take a trip back to visit my family and friends, I am often reminded of what my life was like before I had the internet. My mother lives a poor life, barely able to pay for bills, which means having things like the internet is not a necessity. I always found it difficult readjusting back to that life of not having the internet when I am visiting home. Chayko’s sentence has made me think about the rest of the world and how their life is like as well. Does it impact other people who do not have the internet? Does it even matter at all for societies that never had it in the first place? These days it is a necessity for me to have internet connection in order to work on assignments as well as in the wake of the Corona Virus, keep me connected to my courses from a safe distance. It has made a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend much easier when I can video chat with her whenever I would like with the touch of a button. But for societies that never had internet in the first place, that never needed it and are able to function perfectly as well as our own society, how do they stay connected?

My mother used to tell me stories of her time living in the mountains of Laos. There, people were only connected with the people within their direct vicinity. If you wanted to visit a family member in a completely different village, you would have to walk for hours, maybe even days. She would tell me how dangerous it was, having to watch out for predators, or evil spirits as she would say, that would come to take away their souls. But from the sound of it, she, and many of the elders that fled the war-torn mountains, were completely content with that isolation. Staying connected with people in other villages wasn’t as important as being connected with the people in your village, as being connected with nature, or as living a minimalist lifestyle. I would use to ask if she preferred a society where she had internet and all of these technologies, or would she prefer living in the mountains. She would always say the mountains.

Chayko, M. (n.d.). Superconnected. Retrieved from

Posted on October 4, 2020, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nathan Baughman

    Hi Jackson,
    I appreciate you sharing some of your past with living a more modest lifestyle without internet, and your Mother’s history of living in Laos. I would imagine that this gives you a wider and more empathetic perspective for people who are perhaps less fortunate to have access to the internet, or are just less experienced. That is something I try to work on for myself; especially since my line of work involves a fair amount of computer/internet use, and some of the folks that I train have very little experience to using internet (most of them are elderly individuals). It is important to not assume that every person is ‘wired,’ as Cayko explains. Thinking about this really helps to illustrate how fortunate many of us are with being able to utilize some of the amazing features the internet allows, especially now when we ought to distance ourselves from other people and turn to online contact instead. It makes me wonder what it would be like if the pandemic hit us 20 or 30 years ago. Maybe we’d be on the phone more often, or even sending hand written letters?
    Great post!

  2. rebeccaanderson8641

    Hi Jackson,
    Wow, great post! I was truly moved by your candid expression of the two realities you routinely encounter. There was one question you posed in your post that I thought was particularly profound; I had never considered it before but after reading your reflections, I wonder why this isn’t a question that we think about more often! You wrote, “Does it impact other people who do not have the internet?”. This is such an interesting thought! I have been fully wrapped up in considering how the internet has impacted my life as a user, I never stopped to consider how the internet might be impacting individuals with no access to it. I wonder if any studies have been done to explore this topic? I would imagine that the increased connectivity around the world has at least some impact on virtually every community. When considering your question (though I’m sure it will require a great deal more thought!), I thought of the most extreme example of remoteness I could: the Sentinelese. The Sentinelese are an uncontacted tribe that is protected and vigorously opposes outside presence. I thought, “How could the internet possibly impact the Sentinelese?” Then I realized, I absolutely would not know who the Sentinelese were without the internet. I am assuming many others would be equally ignorant. I can’t imagine that the increased awareness surrounding this uncontacted tribe would have no impact. So, the digital space has spread its impact even to uncontacted people. It’s an incredible question to ponder. Great job!

  3. Hi Jackson,

    Your post really gave me an entirely new perspective on this topic, and I thank you for that. Today’s society seems to take the internet and the everpresent “cloud” of information almost for granted. It becomes the tent-pole function of our lives sometimes, supporting most of our daily functions. If I had to reflect on my day’s activities today, I would say about 80% of them included being connected to the internet. Our reliance on it is something that troubles me at times, as I feel it is a crutch but also an incredible and revolutionary tool. Also, just as you pointed out, there is an impact that is left on the areas without the internet due to the prevalence of the internet in other areas. In a way, this is how Chayko touched on the everpresent cyberworld in our society. There is no sole cyberworld existing on its own. The world is now merged with the physical reality, affecting all aspects of it. This includes areas that are without the cyber world in the first place.

    Nice post!


  4. Hi Jackson,

    Thank you for sharing your post. It is important to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have access to technology that allows us to connect with others so easily. This statement struck me in particular, “staying connected with people in other villages wasn’t as important as being connected with the people in your village, as being connected with nature, or as living a minimalist lifestyle.” I also like your statement at the end about your mother’s preference to the mountains. I try to remind myself to stay connected to natural beauties around us instead of being glued to a screen all the time. It’s important to “unplug” every once and a while.

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