Unlike Egypt, America could never survive with no Internet
For the past week, Egypt has been in a state of upheaval, which is continually looking more like revolution. Riots in the streets, constant media coverage, and an unwilling military: all these point to a discontented Egyptian people. When one's own army lets protestors climb the tanks when it is supposed to be killing them, there is clearly an issue.
However, the Egyptian government has its own tricks, and one of these has been to shut down the Internet in an attempt at squelching communication and the public morale. This has been marginally effective in hindering outside reporting on the war, and perhaps complicated the organizing of the Revolution itself. Yet, it is business as usual for the revolutionaries, who have continued protesting in spite of the blackout or found alternative ways of accessing the Internet.
Fast forward a few years -- a few failed presidencies, perhaps another economic downturn -- and America's situation could mirror Egypt's. Public discontent is high in America, and though I doubt anything as drastic as revolution will occur soon, it is an interesting idea to think about.
Can you imagine an America -- much less one that's trying to actively revolt -- without the Internet? Of course, it would be nearly impossible for a government, even one as powerful and intrusive as ours, to pull an Internet blackout like Egypt's off. There are far too many ways of accessing the web for even a fraction of the United States to be completely deprived of access, even for a short period of time.
Yet ... would an American Revolution be possible without the web?
It happened once, of course, but these are different times. In this new, 21st Century Revolution, Paul Revere would not ride through the streets at night, crying, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" The patriot, the communicator of the burgeoning New Era would be perched a couch in some undisclosed location, frantically sending updates and stirring slogans (limited to 140 characters, sme abbrev may b necessary) to impatient followers.
The followers would then forward the material to their Followers, and word of the impending revolution would spread without the need for horses or waking the townspeople.
Without the Internet, this would not be possible.
In today's revolution, no rough-and-tumble band of countrymen would grab their squirrel rifles and farm implements and take arms against a common oppressor. Rather, we would pick up our phones and frantically start texting and emailing our Congressman, our president, our persecutors with viruses and spam.
Eventually, they would be forced to acquiesce out of sheer annoyance -- not to mention their own reliance on a well-functioning network -- and hand the country over to the disgruntled idealists. The president would stand before a raging America, his hands in the air, and plead: "You can have the stupid country ... will somebody please just get this crap off my phone!?"
Without an Internet to flood and jam Washington's networks, how would the people revolt?
Should America somehow succeed in this new revolution and establish a better society (whatever it may be called) there would be no written equivalent to the United States Constitution.
The American people would never consent to anything that permanent. We would install an Amazon Kindle -- a reliable E-Reader, for sure -- on a pulpit under a plate of glass in the newly established main government building, to be changed at will as the country continually evolves. In no other way could we ensure a truly living, breathing and up-to-date founding document.
But without a wireless signal to download such a Constitution, this could not happen.
Notwithstanding these specific problems, Revolution would be the furthest thing from an Internet-free America's mind. We would be far too busy coping with our withdrawals, feverishly scratching our necks and futilely pushing buttons on our now worthless cell phones and laptops, to think of anything as abstract or distant as equality or a better tomorrow.
Without Facebook statuses or Twitter posts to project our demons on the World Wide Web, our emotions and insecurities would build up and get the best of us, and we would be having breakdowns and DTs instead of rallies and marches.
Yet, if We the People could somehow get over ourselves and our dependent relationship with the Internet, perhaps a blackout would be the best thing for the cause. Without our own voices to entertain and console us, we could listen to the crashing waves of change and be a part of something far greater than ourselves.
Without a screen to constantly fixate on, we could look up, see things for what they are, and feel more compelled to change a reality that does not depend on electricity or the will of some corrupted government.
Here's to hoping the recent blackout backfires against the Egyptian government, and only serves to inspire and mobilize the dissenters in their fight against the current regime. They need a revolution more than we do.
Nathan Kitzmann is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.