The Day the Internet Stood Still | Eileen L. Wittig   2 comments

I live in Alaska and had no idea what was going on because this Internet crisis didn’t affect most of the west. I have one app I use for work that would not do one thing I needed it to do. I assumed it was a glitch and worked around it. Of course, I don’t have a smart thermostat. Brad works from our house, so wanders through a couple of times a day to throw more wood in the wood stove. I guess we could designate him the “smart thermostat”, but I suspect that might not go over real well.

By the way, Alexa … kind of creepy. My brother’s keeps asking us if we want to ask a question. If I didn’t ask a question, I probably don’t want to ask one. And a friend whose name is actually Alexa says her husband has now gifted her with a nickname so as not to set off the answer machine. Just plain creepy! Lela




Tuesday, February 28, 2017, will forever be remembered as the day that Amazon single-handedly made every millennial freeze in their tracks and wonder how to go on living.

The internet outage that struck the eastern side of the US like an alien invasion affected the lives of countless young adults for hours. Hours. For hours, Alexa fell silent. For hours, Amazon Fresh was unavailable. For hours, an entire generation questioned its ability to survive. Good thing the internet came back before anyone had even left work to try to make it on their own at home.

Image result for image of a smart thermostatFor hours, Alexa fell silent. What were we supposed to do, just sit in silence like Medieval serfs? was still running, but how were we supposed to buy things if we didn’t have Alexa to order it for us? The time of tribulation was nothing but questions: what about my music? What about my grocery list? How am I supposed to play Jeopardy or Hunt the Yeti? How am I supposed to get past the smart lock on my house door? How am I supposed to order my usual from Pizza Hut for delivery? What am I supposed to do if I leave work a little early to beat the traffic? Just sit in silence like a Medieval serf?

Tech departments across the Eastern seaboard sat restless, hopeful, shooting each other with Nerf guns while they waited for their jobs to become available again. Internet-dependent workers started actually talking to each other, imagining Employee Steve tripping over the Official Internet cord at Amazon Headquarters, pulling the plug from the wall and the router from its place on the Official Router Table, smashing it to pieces. They imagined Tech Guy Ted, the official Router Dude, being away on a late lunch break, which he always insists on being 100% work-free, enforced by closing his computer and turning off his phone.

“I can’t connect to my thermostat!” my deskmate exclaimed as he stared at his unresponsive phone. “Oh nooo,” I responded in mock sympathy (actually I was jealous he has a smart thermostat and I don’t), “you can’t make sure your empty house is at a comfortable temperature.” “I just like knowing I’m connected, that it’s there,” he said, but he was laughing at himself.

The Return of the World

At last the internet slipped quietly back into everyone’s Amazon devices, back into the unseen cables tying everyone to their stuff, back into the worldwide web, and the world lurched back into rotation like a caught VHS tape realigning.

What if it happened again, on a weekend??

“Oh, my thermostat is back!” my deskmate announced as he refreshed the app for the tenth time. “Ooh look I’m in eco mode. I shall adjust the temperature by one degree.”

And so the world returned to normal, if uneasily. The questions continued: since when did Amazon control so much of the web? What if it happened again later after even more of our lives became dependent on the internet? What if it happened after work instead of at work? What if it happened on a weekend??

With a collective shudder to shake off such incomprehensible horrors, an entire generation moved boldly on with their lives, into the suddenly less confident future. And everyone hoped that Employee Steve had bought a backup router with his accrued Amazon credit points in case he tripped on the cord of the new Official Router again, and that Tech Guy Ted had hired an intern to come in over the lunch hours.

Source: The Day the Internet Stood Still | Eileen L. Wittig


Posted March 2, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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2 responses to “The Day the Internet Stood Still | Eileen L. Wittig

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  1. I had no idea that happened. Pretty funny, though.


    • Yeah, it shows the risk of one service (Amazon) running all those apps through a massive server farm. If something goes wrong, it affects half the country. And most of that traffic is essentially silly. I had no idea it was happening except that I had one work app that wasn’t working. But this social media reporter is surrounded by millennials who literally live through their phones … they have been known to have conversations with their coworkers via phone when the coworker was in the same room as them. That’s just silly.

      Now, I’m kind of wondering – are Australians as attached to their smart phones as Americans. Literally, we have people who walk out into traffic because they became so engrossed in their phone that they failed to notice the cars speeding by. It’s so prevalent, we in the transportation industry call it “distracted walking.”


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