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Professional Cynic #11 – What if there was no internet

Imagine, just for a second, that there was no internet. It’s easy if you try. Not that it wasn’t invented at all, but that it was gone. Gremlins in the wiring, or rather the Wi-Fi. Cyber attack. Whatever – the internet has gone.

What would we do?

It’s actually not that easy because we probably don’t appreciate how many things in our lives are run by the internet. Reading this for a start, although you almost definitely realised that.

Your phone is all data; it’s barely a phone. Your computer, laptop, tablet, what-have-you, is just a portal online to run your life. Your music streaming, social media apps, YouTube, games, gambling, shopping, banking, messaging, travel, TV, newspapers, books, food, schedule, and more are all on the world wide web.

You probably couldn’t do your job anymore without it. Every shop till is run by the web. Any office job is a network linked online.

There’s probably more chance of the Y2K apocalypse happening if the internet disappeared. But just for a moment, think, wouldn’t it be great?

I’m sure many of you love your day-to-day being dictated by your WiFi box. You work from home; you get your voice-activated bot to turn your lights, kettle, shower, music, and TV on; you scroll Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook whilst you’re having a shit; you check the sports and news; you read the Guardian app to find out how well Putin thinks Russia is doing in Ukraine; and then order your shopping from your favourite (cheapest) supermarket.

Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of those things too, but I am starting to resent the fact that everything is now reliant on whether we have WiFi working fast enough, adequate 4 or 5G signal, and whether IT support is available to fix the problem that hasn’t been cured by turning it off and on again.

There is an element of the technophobe speaking here. Even typing this into Word Press makes me edgy, but this overreliance on technology is starting to detract from the enjoyment of life.

Do you find yourself reading an article online, and after a while, you start wondering how long it is and scroll down and once you’ve realised it’s still several hundred, maybe a thousand words away from the end, you give up? You didn’t think like that with a paper or magazine, though, did you? But then, you dedicated time to reading whatever publication you had in front of you with a brew or a pint. Now, it’s just part of your doom scrolling as your brain has demanded you pick up your device and look at what’s on your feed. It’s become a reflex; you don’t even realise you’ve done it because you have the attention span of a flea. You are addicted, and we all know addiction is not a good thing.

The issue is also that this is a device to contact people on and do all the things mentioned above, and you will have received a Whats App notification, an email, a notification from Instagram and possibly a reminder to put the bins out since you started reading (if many of you are or have reached this far down). What you could have done with a magazine or paper is put it down, answered the phone, front door, or person and then carried on. But you will probably forget what you were doing and then when you go back into the app where the link was from, it’s lost forever and the algorithm has sent the post into the ether.

We have all developed an instant gratification complex, even those who may say they don’t, or hate the idea and don’t want to feel this way, they want to hear that track, that album, watch that post, see the trending meme or whatever it may be now. I have done it myself this morning and was irritated when I couldn’t find the new Enjoyable Listens single because Tidal had added it to the end of their singles and didn’t appear to have pre-saved it for me.

But here is an artist who knows how to play to the crowd, in more ways than one. He’s slowly teasing his next record. We had a single in November, a single in March and now July. We don’t even know when we’re getting an LP, or even if it is an LP. In an era where Spotify demands artists release constant products to keep them in constant playlist rotation and artists have to obey their war-mongering overlords and provide content for them to make billions from, it’s refreshing that some rise above it and actually create anticipation and a buzz. One such band is The Last Dinner Party who have only just released their second single but are the hype band of the moment. And for good reason because they’re fantastic. They’ve done it differently, gigging constantly for 18 months and only then putting something out there. They’re not confirming an LP, they’re raising anticipation to a fever pitch. And it’s working. Hopefully, this is a sign that things are changing. Bands and artists are taking the power back. Like before the internet controlled everything.

Although it still is. Only yesterday, Threads was released – a fairly blatant attempt at recreating Twitter for the less cunty and to piss off Elon Musk by Meta. Yet another social media app, but of course I have downloaded it and logged on. Feels like 2009 again. If only, hey? Maybe we could start it all again.

In the meantime, put your phone down, stick a record on, pick up a book and tune out for a bit.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.