Emad Barsoum writes: A non-digital cup of coffee
I am writing these words, and I am not sure if they will even reach the readers this week. I woke up early in the morning to finish the article (originally about oil prices and the economy) to meet the printing deadline, however, my plans quickly changed.
My articles are always last-minute issues to provide the valued readers with views and analysis on the latest and hot topics, if any.
Reading and listening to the local and world news is the first thing to do while preparing my strong aromatic morning coffee and watching the backyard animals and birds searching for food, playing, and flirting. A splendid view and tranquil feeling. Yet envying those beautiful creatures for their freedom, spontaneity, carefree. No news to watch informing about wars, recession, stock and commodity market fluctuations, pandemics, fundamentalism, hate, violation of human rights, absence of freedom of speech, and more; the depressing list is long.
Coffee is ready, but still, no voice or image is coming out of the TV! I started to check the connections, and all looked good. I reached out to my smartphone to see if I had the Wi-Fi or switch to data, still showed no sign of life. The next step was to call the service provider to inquire about the service; although it is 5:30 in the morning, they always said that 24/7 technical support is available.
But to a great surprise, even the phone service is down!
It is a complete BLACKOUT… No Phone, internet, landline, nor TV, and of course, no Wi-Fi.
Standing bewildered in the middle of the living room, back and forth between all my devices that fall under the category Hi-Teck, wireless, web-based, and for a few seconds, I, myself, had a Blackout and hundreds of questions stuffed in my mind.
They were all about my comfort and my accessibility having had constant online access replacing our brain with some microchips beneath touch screens. Then after a second thought, I realized it is not about me; it is about them and us and everyone. I started to be worried about my senior neighbor who lives alone, and what if there is a need for an emergency call, or her pharmacy to send her the medication. It is about the thousands who work from home now in various domains, where other thousands and thousands depend on them for most aspects of life, even some of the family doctors, who ironically enough are still diagnosing illness over the phone. What about students who do their exams online, virtual court appearances, and security systems for residential and commercial facilities, especially with the significant rise in crime these days.
I went far and imagined if this is used as a tool to carry out a political uprise or wide-scale civil disobedience. We live online; once you unplug the cord, all our lives collapse. Same as living on life support machines; if it is switched off then one’s existence comes to an end.
Then I wished to go back in time to tell all those who put us online and are controlling our lives to stop doing it unless they have a backup plan to face such massive blackouts, and I wished I could get back my regular landline phone to feel safer, to have my data and required work files on my computer not in the cloud, to go back and work from the office, seeing real people and solving work problems together.
Nevertheless, I was very grateful that my coffee machine, toaster, and shower were not online or using data.