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The fact that you’re reading these words at this very moment means you’re connected to the rest of the world via the Internet. It’s easy to forget how epic the Internet is, and how much it has grown since it first hit the mainstream in the 1990s 10 Videos Exploring The Internet As It Was In The 1990s 10 Videos Exploring The Internet As It Was In The 1990s The history of the Internet stretches back as far as 1969, but it didn't become popular until the 1990s when the whole thing became commercialized, ISPs started offering access, and the World Wide Web emerged... Read More . But it pays to remember on occasion what a phenomenal resource we have at our fingertips.

Obviously not everybody in the world has access to the pleasures of the online world, with millions of people yet to have experienced the Internet and everything it has to offer. Which is a crying shame for something that the majority of us take for granted. So perhaps it’s time for those of us who may well be addicted to the Internet Are You Addicted to the Internet? [You Told Us] Are You Addicted to the Internet? [You Told Us] The Internet is perhaps the greatest invention of all time. It's certainly up there amongst the main contenders, even now when it's still only in its infancy. The possibilities this interconnected web of computer networks... Read More (even just a little) to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be connected.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, What Would You Give Up Before The Internet? Imagine creating a list with the key things in your life ranked in order of how much you need/want them. Where would Internet access rank on that list? And what things would rank above and below it?

Unless you’re extremely lucky and have the best ISP Ookla Net Index: Find the Fastest ISP in Your Area Ookla Net Index: Find the Fastest ISP in Your Area Read More in the world, then you will have, at some point, experienced life without the Internet. Everyone should, of course, take breaks from the Internet Take A Break From the Internet - You’ll Thank Yourself Later [Opinion] Take A Break From the Internet - You’ll Thank Yourself Later [Opinion] Oh, the Internet. One of the most world-changing inventions of the past century, perhaps even in all of human history. Never before has everything been so available in so little effort for so low a... Read More , but there’s a big difference between choosing to stay offline for a while, and having access to the Internet denied for whatever reason.

It’s at times like these that many of us would give anything for the chance to get back online. So imagine yourself in that scenario and let us know what you would (and wouldn’t) give up before the Internet. Be creative but brutally honest. Be specific without being boring.


I would assume everyone would list food and water above the Internet on this imaginary list, but it could be argued that having the Internet available to use would mean you could source these other things — and anything else you desired in life — anyway. So it’s an interesting practical and philosophical question to ponder.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and a free MakeUseOf T-shirt. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Photosteve101

  1. nazeem kai
    September 25, 2013 at 10:03 am

    redbull and flirting!

  2. Linda R
    September 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I would take the Internet over my smartphone too. In fact.take my smartphone..please! Doing research on the Internet literally save my life. Of course all the perks are nice also.

    • Dave P
      September 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      I'll gladly take your smartphone off your hands! :)

  3. Jimmy L
    September 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    To keep my internet, I would give up my spare time and donate it to charity. I would give my car & gas for anything but an absolute emergency. I would also give up all the wasteful things I spend my money on like expensive clothing or cologne, because I need the internet to make money; I telecommute to work

    • Dave P
      September 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      We should all give some time to charity, whether in order to keep the Internet or not ;)

  4. Christine S
    September 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Toxic friendships, having the internet i find that i do not need unhealthy relationships due to mmm maybe boredom? as a stay at home non soccer mom life can be a bit lonely. However i could not give up my gardening it really helps me balance my addiction to the internet. And television i am definately able to live without yet i still no matter how many e readers are on the market i have to hold a real book in my hands. I do love a good read.

    • Dave P
      September 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Down with e-books, long live real books!

  5. Hal
    September 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Hello Dave P,
    First, there are a lot of good things about the Internet as it evolves - the access to nearly all human studies and information to the masses for one thing. Yet even this has a downside.
    All this information makes discerning truth from opinion, or outright lies difficult to say the least.
    Social media, especially Facebook adds nothing useful (connecting with people?) that I can see, and a lot of awful scenarios (teen suicide) the worst thing, collection and storing of personal information.
    In fact, many young people don't see the significance of privacy. They know nothing of history (McCarthyism, Pogroms) and apparently believe "...if you are not a criminal you don't need privacy."
    The average IQ in the US has dropped about 14 points in the last 100 years. People, generally speaking, don't read anything more than 300 or 400 words. Stupid is fashionable.

    I love using the Internet, I have built websites for almost 20 years, designed networks for the healthcare system, I have a blog (one of many I've had or wrote for over the years). I owned a computer business for about 10 years, worked as a contractor, 25 years with AT&T before that and still do a lot of research.

    I could live without the Internet. In fact, reading more, not sitting as much and attending more club meetings has a lot of benefits in comparison.

    For every good there is evil and evil there is good. That's life.

    ~ Hal

    • Dave P
      September 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      There are definitely downsides, on that I agree. I believe social media does add something to the world, allowing connections, citizen journalism, and a host of other things. The loss of privacy (and the lack of worrying about this loss of privacy) is certainly a worry.

      Is the drop in IQ all about the Internet? Remember the Web as we know it has only been around for 20 years or so.

      It's an interesting debate for another day though. I might put together an article about the positives and negatives related to the Internet.

  6. Hal
    September 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

    As much as I enjoy the Internet I would not give up much if anything that I do now for it. The only thing I can think of are gadgets, a tablet, smartphone (never a regular cell phone) and any other thing along this line.
    In various capacities, I have worked in IT for more than 40 years. I had my first email address in 1983. Not all things that have evolved over the years on the Internet are good. As I read these comments, I am a amazed that people think the Internet is so important.
    There is a big world out there folks. Interacting with people vis-à-vis is still best for social interaction.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

      The Internet means a great deal to many people. Interested to hear what the bad things you feel have evolved over the years online are though.

  7. Tushar
    September 21, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I'm from India where blackouts and water scarcities are routine. Given a choice between electricity, water and internet, I'd gladly give up the first two. (Provided my battery doesn't die)

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:53 am

      People usually forget about the need for a battery, so kudos for remembering that key component ;)

  8. XtremWize
    September 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    My wife...

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

      I know a good divorce lawyer.

  9. Istvan Harsany
    September 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    My car, phone, cable TV. I'm retired and life without internet would be hard and boring.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

      The Internet is capable of replacing the phone and TV to a certain extent. The car would mean a loss of freedom though, and you may miss it more than you can imagine.

    • Istvan H
      September 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Actually I did sell my car 6 months ago, the reason: unjustifiable cost. Moved closer to downtown and now I walk, my wife works, she has a car all day with her. I do miss it sometimes but I would miss the Internet much more.

  10. Jason N
    September 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I think I'd give up my left...oh, um...shoe...yeah...before I'm going net-less.
    I'd definitely give up the pets, and maybe the kids, not sure. Hope for their sake we don't have to find out!
    Ok, maybe not the kids and pets. But seriously, the cell phone, the wife's phone, the landline phone, the cable and probably the actual TV too, if it came to that. In fact, if it came right down to it, I would sell my current car and buy a cheaper one...maybe I'd need a less expensive house, if things have gone that far south for me.
    I think if I couldn't afford the net bill, I would do whatever I needed to fix that. 2nd job? Sure thing.
    I'm having trouble imagining a scenario where I can't afford the net bill, but, if there was one, I'd do what it takes.
    I'd sell my guns, some extra furniture, or apply for work *AT* any and every ISP in my area.
    I think you get the idea. I'm not going to be without it as long as I have legs, and if my legs are gone my disability checks are still going to pay the ISP.
    In fact this conversation makes me uncomfortable, and the thought of not having the net makes me twitchy.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

      I love the way you visibly wrestle with the idea of giving up everything in order to keep the Internet over the course of that comment.

      I hope the twitchiness subsided quickly; we don't want to leave anyone feeling nervous.

  11. R. Martin
    September 20, 2013 at 2:39 am

    I would give up my iPhone. I hate talking on telephones and don't really see much need for texting. As long as I have the internet (with email) I will have all the communications I need. I can read and answer email when I want to and not have to jump and check my messages every time I hear the chime.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

      I also hate talking on telephones, it's so impersonal and, well, annoying. I don't mind texts but I agree, emails are fantastic.

  12. dragonmouth
    September 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I would give up Windows. Oh, wait, I did give up Windows about 10 years ago. Best decision I ever made.

    I pity those that need Internet to maintain friendships. Maybe if you spent a little less time on the 'Net you would have more friends you can actually hug.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:47 am

      You gave up Windows for what? Don't say Mac, please don't say Mac.

      I'm sure those of us who spend too long online still have people willing to hug them. I know I do.

  13. Karen
    September 19, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    All of my free time... oh wait, I've already given that up TO the internet

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Now there's an ironic catch 22 for you!

  14. Justin P
    September 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I'd give up caffeine and alcohol. I'd be half as happy as I am, but I really really don't want to give up the Internet. I just love the people I'm connected to through these crazy pipes, and wouldn't give that up for anything.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

      What, you mean the reprobates and weirdos who listen to Technophilia every week? They're probably why you turned to drink in the first place...

  15. Sebastian S
    September 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    My two children

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

      :O Wow.

  16. Tim O
    September 19, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Sugar. No small feat giving that up! After the massive headache effects of sugar withdrawal are over with, then I coould re-enjoy the Internet. Hmmmm...what else? Caffeine...nope, sugar would be tough enough, giving up sugar and caffeine would kill me and death would eat into my Internet time.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Death has a nasty habit of disrupting your life somewhat. Which is a shame really ;)

      I agree though... sugar, yes, at a push, but caffeine would be tough.

  17. Leah
    September 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I keep thinking I would give up TV before the internet, but then I like my live baseball and I can't get that on the internet (I am in the blackout zone for my favorite team). So, no, I won't give up TV for that reason right there. But, what would I give up? If I had to choose between hard copies of books and the internet I'd choose the internet because I can get books on the internet (I prefer hard copies to e-books, though). Telephone or internet? Give up telephone/cell phone. I'm not much of a caller anyway and I'll just direct everyone to email, Skype, Twitter, or Facebook me (or leave me a PM anywhere I have an account that allows PMs). I'd get a tablet (I don't currently have one) and then be available on the go without a cell phone.

    Anything else would be a tough tough decision. I do love my internet, though! Oh, and I agree with bben. I would definitely give up Asparagus for the internet. :p

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

      I'm sure there is somewhere online you can watch your live baseball, but it won't necessarily be entirely legal.

      That's a very good point: both books and communication between people can be found on the Internet, so while it wouldn't be your first choice, it would surely do.

  18. bben
    September 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Definitely Asparagus.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

      I think we're all with you there.

  19. Serra
    September 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I would give up eating before I would give up the internet, for real!

  20. Gourav Mittal
    September 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    "food and water above the Internet" .. You must be kidding, right ? I can certainly live without food and water for a day.. but without internet, ummm, I'll have to give it second thoughts.
    Internet connection ranks very high on my "need" list, backed up by the need of uninterrupted power supply as there is a power cut of a few hours everyday in the area where I reside.

    On a side note, a recently read quote immediately comes to my mind after going through your article. It goes as, "Imagine if trees gave off Wi Fi Signals. We would be planting so many trees and we'd probably save the planet too... Too bad they produce only the oxygen we breathe" !

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

      No food and water for a day, fine, but try a week!

      I love that quote. It's sadly true too, we would be much more interested if tress gave us Internet rather than oxygen.

  21. Marius G
    September 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Its a tough question given the internet has seeped into almost every modern occupation in the 21st Century. Given fall in productivity that would occur I'd probably give up living father away form work considering the "Work from Home" option would no loger be possible!

  22. anonymous
    September 19, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Have things really gotten that bad for humanity, that we'd rather give up basic essentials, than a connection to a bunch of machines? This is yet another reason not to have children, the human race just keeps declining.

    • excentrically
      September 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I think it's not a connection to the machine, it's a connection to the world the machine affords you. I have friends on other continents that I will never meet in person, but they know me and my life to a certain extent, and I know them and theirs. I can see things I would never be able to see in person, find out about things I did not even know existed, see things I will never be able to see in the real world, read and discuss opinions with all sorts of people. The thing that I believe is most important about the internet is that it allows you to interact with others of your species without being judged or judging on the basis of looks, accents, skin colors, whatever biases we may have in the real world. You can't SEE most of those things on the internet, and can just interact based on the subject being discussed. I'm not sure we realize just how subtly we are effected by biases we may not even realize we hold. The internet cancels those out. I personally think it's a good thing, and I am grateful for my computer every time I turn it on. It's my window to the world, and it's not interrupted by commercials for 20 minutes out of every hour I'm on it.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:38 am

      It isn't the connection to a bunch of machines people are so tied to, but what that represents. You can do practically anything online now, from maintaining friendships to ordering everything you could ever need to entertain you. It's a powerful tool.

  23. Patrick S
    September 19, 2013 at 9:57 am

    My left nut.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

      You, sir, win the Internetz.

  24. myself
    September 19, 2013 at 9:51 am

    everything (car, all electronics...) except basic needs (friends, food, shelter...) ofc

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:35 am

      So, Internet would be the first thing for you other than those things that you absolutely need to survive?

  25. Vasilis
    September 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

    telephone , tv ,radio :P

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:34 am

      All of which can be replaced by a strong Internet connection and a little bit of know-how. Good shout!

  26. José
    September 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

    What if the doctor tells someone to give up coffee, or fat, alcohol, ...? Your question is more or less in the same line. So, I think I would sell my motorbike, and alcohol definitely is the first to renounce, not that I'm enslaved on one or two drinks a day, except wine at meals.
    Also, I would most probably cut on food, I'm aware I eat more than needed.
    What I'm sure I wouldn't give up is spending time with my cousin -- I frequently go have a cup of coffee with him and one or two of our friends.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:34 am

      That's all very sensible. I mean, cutting down on alcohol and bad food is a good thing, but retaining relationships with family and friends is ultra important. Still, cousin vs. Internet... you'd at least consider it, no? ;)

  27. likefunbutnot
    September 19, 2013 at 3:27 am

    It is fair to say that there is very little I would not give up to have internet access. Most of my social interaction is enabled via the internet. Pervasive internet access is essential for almost all aspects of my livelihood and most of my leisure activities. Internet access is more important to me than owning a car (I could, if pressed, do every bit of my job with a combination of remote access services, a webcam and a decent pair of shoes for trips to the nearest UPS drop-off).

    I suppose I could continue to qualify my valuation of internet access, but let it suffice to say that I might be willing to contemplate loss of minor extremities in exchange for continued access, but just below contact with my SO.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

      As someone who works from home and doesn't drive a car, I can certainly see where you're coming from. The loss of minor extremities may be where I would draw the line though.

  28. Paaj
    September 19, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Alcohol! I've lived without both and I can confirm life without internet is much worse that life without a sip of a 18 year old scotch.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

      As a fellow lover of aged scotch whisky that's quite a statement to make!

  29. Kelly
    September 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I would give up TV, my smartphone, my tablet. Only keep my Windows PC and internet. <3

    • John C
      September 19, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Agreed with that except my smartphone, there are times when it's needed for me.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

      You'd rather give up your mobile devices than your home computer? That's interesting.

    • Danny
      September 24, 2013 at 1:36 am

      You can do more on a PC than on a tiny mobile device.

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