Who would you friend? Defriend? Caps-lock comma-free call out?
At some point in our lives, each and every one of us will be forced—not asked—to participate in an icebreaker game, designed to get people talking at a party or a community event or some kind of work-related team-building jamboree. If we’re lucky, we’ll be offered something easy to discuss: our favorite color, perhaps, or our most cherished season. Inevitably, though, someone will ask “What would you do if it was your last day on Earth?”
Answers will run the gamut from “something boring about family” to “sex with a celebrity” (ok), but many will end up answering with some version of “what I do every day.” Since, on average, American adults spend 11 hours a day on digital media—checking email, stalking exes, watching cat videos, and otherwise letting our brains slowly die—maybe a more interesting question these days would be “What would you do on your last day of internet?”
So … what would you do on your last day of internet?
What would you do if they were going to shut it all down tomorrow? (Don’t ask why, this isn’t that kind of thought experiment.) For people whose lives and careers remain so inextricably attached to their Wi-Fi, what would their final hours online look like? Would they make peace with their vaguely racist high school friend who wants to defund Planned Parenthood? Would they finally—after months, years of contemplating—sign up for Amazon Prime, just to enjoy 24 hours of straight streaming heaven? Or are their interests more pornographic? Would they spend a full day exploring uncharted sites, bold and brazen new categories, discovering their grossest selves in the process? Who would they friend? Defriend? Caps-lock comma-free call out?
We here at GOOD decided that we’d waste some of our favorite internet people’s time by asking them how they’d spend their final remaining hours on the digital grid.
Abby Schreiber, Digital Managing Editor, PAPER Magazine
Even though I’m one of those supposedly detestable millennials and my job is editing a digital publication, I'm weirdly a Luddite at heart, so I don’t think I'd get too freaked out if I only had one more day to spend on the internet. But, if it were my last day on the web, I would probably spend time looking at old Facebook photos for nostalgia’s sake, Wikipedia-ing the shit out of everything and spending hours getting sucked into Wiki-wormholes (probably started by googling deceased European socialites/Latin American dictators/minor royal family members) and then watching Tim & Eric's Totino’s Pizza Rolls commercial one last time. I find it to be a great de-stressor.
Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist
Realistically, if there were a last day of internet, I would probably just end up spending that entire day answering media inquiries about how people should deal with the fact that the internet was ending. Like most net phenomena, it would be a “meta” experience for me. Once it actually happened, I’d have a whole lot more time on my hands.
Brian Abrams, Editor in Chief, Death and Taxes
I’d launch a Kickstarter to fund a new internet—one in which know-it-all bearded Leonard Maltin wannabes on Twitter would be allotted a limited number of tweets per day; a Facebook algorithm that wouldn’t favor baby pictures and vacation photos; an Instagram that would #freethenipple. And, most of all, an internet that would provide a free streaming service for The Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM (but just the old shows, anything before Artie’s unfortunate exit, let’s say). But then I’d probably just take the money and run because Al Gore won’t share his recipe for the tubes.
Yeni Sleidi, Self-Avowed “Weed Fairy”
Are smartphones also gone? Is electronic global communication barred in this dystopia? In that case, I’d encourage my e-friends to send me handwritten texts. I think those used to be called letters, or something. I’d then collect clippings of the stunts that made me semi-viral: lesbian sex,being a Weed Fairy and later a witch, shaming Chuck C. Johnson for being a public pooper, and having a sense of humor about messy breakups. I’d also print out a screenshot of my Google ranking, which will prove to my children that I used to kind of matter. Finally, I’d google how to invest in sunscreen. Boredom is going to drive millennial mole people out of their bedrooms, and they’ll quickly realize how easily their skins burn without protection. If I’m going to live in a dystopia without internet, I want to be a fat cat who can afford fresh fruit, not that Soylent Green garbage.
Lola Pellegrino, Writer, Nurse Practitioner
Since learning of this query the answer has consumed me. First, the junk internet fell away: I know that I wouldn't bother with Tumblr, or Twitter, or click on a single news link. I would spend my time accessing various beloveds, acquaintances, the whole network of humans that don’t exist outside the screen and the parts of me and my past that only exist inside of it. I’d read my whole LiveJournal (1999-2009) and everyone else’s, knowing with every word that I must stash it in my heart forever. I would eschew G-chatting randos (omg we only went to camp together and don’t you see my red dot!?!) and instead engage my feminist backchannels on Facebook chat as they shut off the lights.
Lee Roy Myers, Pornographer
I would probably spend the last day of the internet’s existence googling theaters that would allow live sex shows so that I could keep making pornography after the death of pornography’s delivery system. I’d spend the next day adapting SpongeKnob SquareNuts into a musical: Book of SquareNuts.
Joshua Heller, Guru of the #Monetize2016 Mantra
I’d download all my favorite Spotify playlists. I’d write a long Facebook post that encourages my internet friends to now follow me on new social platforms like carrier pigeon, CB radio, notes in a bottle, two-cans-connected-by-a-string, and VHS tapes sent via snail mail. I’d also order checks from my credit union so that I can pay my bills. Oh wait; actually, if the internet is gone, I can probably get away with never paying bills again. I guess since all banking at this point is reliant on the World Wide Web, I would withdraw all the cash that I have in my bank accounts. With that $768, I’d buy myself a really nice cheeseburger at a very posh restaurant, while Skyping with old social media buddies who I probably won’t ever see again (unless they too have invested in CB radio). The next day would actually be pretty chill. No emails to respond to, no clever witticisms to come up with, no Google alerts, or spam to delete. I guess I’d start my new life, homesteading in my apartment without an internet connection to brag about it. I’d pickle all the leftover produce in my fridge and then start a fresh batch of my signature Purple Sauerkraut™. Now that the internet is gone, nobody will be able to look up kraut recipes anymore, and this will give my burgeoning macrobiotic business a monopoly in the fermented space, and through the power of two-cans-connected-by-a-string, my new career will blossom.