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r ranson
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Yesterday I read a news story that said about 80% of the people in my province have the internet.

That means, that about 20% of the people in my province do not have the internet. 

That's something to think about.

I wonder what it's like to live without the internet in this day and age?  Some doctors only book appointments through the internet.  Some parking, one can only pay for with a smartphone.  Banks charge more for paper statements in an attempt to get everyone to switch to online banking.  Some government services are almost impossible to get without the internet.  Some services are only done online now. 

I've often considered stopping my internet service.  Can one survive in this modern world without it? 
 
Stacy Witscher
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I would suspect that some of those people use public internet. One of my friends roams a lot. Not always a fixed home, I'm sure he would be classified as not having internet, but he does use the internet.

And whether or not you can survive without internet would largely relate to how involved you are with the rest of society.
 
r ranson
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I would suspect that some of those people use public internet.


Possibly, but the article suggested not.  Perhaps it's better worded "20% do not access the internet"?
 
r ranson
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Stacy Witscher wrote:...
And whether or not you can survive without internet would largely relate to how involved you are with the rest of society.


I wonder about that a lot.  Are people being excluded from 'the rest of society'?  It must be very lonely for them.  I wonder what we can do to help them feel more included?  I wonder who and where these people are.
 
Stacy Witscher
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I'm sure that some people are being excluded the rest of society. Some create their own society and some people don't want to be part of society. I have a difficult time with people. I find the internet easier because I can interact or not as I choose. If it were not for my adult children, I would have very little interaction with society as a whole.

I misunderstood the original statement, 20% not using the internet seems high. Some of it is likely, people who are too young or old, or just generally not able. But it still seems high.
 
Trey Indigo
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Heh, I guess I'm part of that 20%. I've been conditioning myself for the past year for off grid living and I don't find gaining access to the internet to be all that challenging since I know a few places with open WiFi sources. Any McDonald or library usually has a hot spot to tap into. Sure, you do have to curve your addiction to Internet usage because it's not as convenient as having service but I don't really find it that unbearable... kinda nice actually.
 
Judith Browning
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r ranson wrote:
Stacy Witscher wrote:...
And whether or not you can survive without internet would largely relate to how involved you are with the rest of society.


I wonder about that a lot.  Are people being excluded from 'the rest of society'?  It must be very lonely for them.  I wonder what we can do to help them feel more included?  I wonder who and where these people are.


We have several good friends who do not 'access the internet'.  They are perfectly happy and not one bit lonely (and not all that old).  I think once immersed in on line goings on it would be hard to go back but for those who haven't taken the plunge, life goes happily on.  These friends use the phone! (not a cell phone, but the kind on the wall) and actually drive over to see us or anyone they like....they have busy productive lives and I think keep up with the world quite well through other channels...magazines, newspapers and radio and socializing in the flesh rather than virtually.

We don't do any bill paying on line...just some occasional book buying and a few other things we could go without if need be.   I would miss a lot of information sharing and connection with the art world and other things that I've become accustomed to but in the scheme of things I would probably be better off without this distraction.
 
Nathan Strumfeld
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It would be really tough to live without things like email and online banking. In a way, the internet makes life so much simpler, not having to deal with the post office, or writing checks etc.
But without the internet you could, in theory, still have a cell phone right? I guess it would have no internet connectivity or data plan, but you could still call or text friends and family thereby connecting you in a way.
 
r ranson
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20% seemed high to me too.  The source was credible and I think we have the recent census data available, so why would it be so high?

Our population is top heavy - in that we have a lot of people over the age of 80.  Age alone does not exclude them from the internet, but I suspect it doesn't entice them to use the internet.  The report didn't say if it was adults or the whole population, so we might add some children to the numbers (although my friends start teaching internet skills to their kids at about two years old). 

We also have a very spread out population, so that many people don't have internet service where they live.  They rely on a very expensive satellite internet which, I'm told, can be slow and unpredictable - although I imagine it's gotten better since then.

Then we have the people who choose not to use the internet.  Outside the local care home, I know 5.  I don't know many people, and without actually counting, I would say between 10 and 20% of the people I know personally, in person, don't use the internet at home. 

I've thought about going offline many times - permies is probably the main draw for keeping the internet.  Also, I worry I would loose many healthcare, banking and government services if I went offline. A lot of public safety announcements like cougar sightings are only done on FB and Twitter, the police seldom submit them to the local paper. 


One of the things I'm curious about is how can I reach a wider audience.  In my volunteer endeavours, I've been looking at ways to reach more people with less effort.  But what I didn't consider is that so many people are not online.  I wonder if these people would be interested in helping with projects within their community? 
 
Todd Parr
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I have read studies (and I tend to agree) that people that interact primarily online are more lonely and isolated.  Online "friendships" can fulfill some needs, but they are not a substitute for interacting with people in person.  Before the internet, people talked to each other.  I believe more people knew and interacted with neighbors, family, their community.  I go out to dinner now and see entire families on their phone texting or surfing or playing games.  They are sitting at the same table and don't even look at one another. I believe the internet isolates people, rather than the opposite. 

I would miss out on the amount of information available online, but otherwise, I wouldn't have a problem not having internet access.  It seems people did just fine before we had it  
 
Nathan Strumfeld
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It's such a powerful tool, and so hard to live without nowadays, but I think it just needs to be used appropriately. You can lose all the frivolous social media crap, or things you don't like but keep the good things.
As an example, many people aren't ready to give up their car completely. But you can find ways to drive less, bike or walk more, and maybe get a more fuel efficient car to at least lower your carbon footprint.
 
Judith Browning
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One of the things I'm curious about is how can I reach a wider audience.  In my volunteer endeavors, I've been looking at ways to reach more people with less effort.  But what I didn't consider is that so many people are not online.  I wonder if these people would be interested in helping with projects within their community? 


I think that schools and churches, grocery stores and post offices might be good places to get in touch with volunteers.  Put up some posters with phone numbers to call...one could give a talk at the school or church group.  Maybe those you are already in touch with could each use the phone and call anyone they know who isn't on line?...a personal invite might be more effective than a generic 'come if you can'.  
Word of mouth used to happen without a computer...surely it's not dead.  Just try to stop a rumor and see what happens...

 
James Freyr
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I would love to live without the internet, at least I think I do. I remember life before the internets, granted I was a child and teenager, but I do remember. I like what Nathan just said about it being a powerful tool. I mean, a hammer can build a home or bludgeon someone to death. There's so much crap on the internet, and then there's a handful of quality good in the internet. I particularly like this site, as I can discuss things I find interesting with like minded people. I used to drink and have a regular bar, and no one was talking about gardening, soil biology, chickens or homesteading. The frightening thing about the internet, and really computers for that matter, is entire nations are propped up by them (power and utility grids, communications, financial institutions, gov't databases, etc.) and one day a solar flare will knock out all the satellites and everything electronic on the ground on the sunny side of the planet. All the eggs are in one basket. Hopefully the giant solar flares that happen all the time keep going in the other direction.

I fully enjoy having the internet and all it's conveniences, and I consciously do my best to limit my time on the internet, and use it as a positive tool. It is, hands down, the greatest encyclopedia we have to date. There's nothing I can't learn about on the internet. I sometimes daydream about not having the internet, or a computer. I believe, like with anything, it would just take adjustment to learn to live without it, and my life would go on just fine, as long as I can keep getting seeds and seed catalogs in the mail. (I'm just now dipping my toes in seed saving)
 
Stacy Witscher
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I wonder if people who interact with others primarily online, would interact with others in person if there was no internet, or if these are just the lonely/isolated types. For myself, I think this is the case, without the internet I just wouldn't deal with people anymore than required. I tend to regret my friendships.
 
Burra Maluca
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I think it might be time to share a link to this thread - Permaculture and Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Asperger's
 
Jarret Hynd
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r ranson wrote: I wonder about that a lot.  Are people being excluded from 'the rest of society'?

r ranson wrote: We also have a very spread out population, so that many people don't have internet service where they live.  They rely on a very expensive satellite internet which, I'm told, can be slow and unpredictable - although I imagine it's gotten better since then.


Yup, it's actually pretty bad. I compared global internet services using Ookla(speedtest) stats before, and Canada has some of the worst internet in the world overall. Comparable to Mongolia or several semi-developed African nations. Note that this is talking about the average speeds per cost of basic internet services. I remember Iceland for example, having a similar population density as Canada but having 2 or 3x faster connection speeds.

I was going to rant about rural cell/internet service, but it seems like it'd take away from the point of the topic. I will say there are plenty of negative attributes to the way internet services are set up in the rural that people who have horrible internet out here can't use their internet for more than email. So even if they are included in the "80%", I really wouldn't consider those kinds of people to have the societal problems that Nathan or James referenced, since those people have a service which can hardly be called "internet". I have an uncle who says things are similar in rural B.C, so the 20% you quoted sounds about right to me. Rural areas still account for 1/6th of the population in Canada.

r ranson wrote:One of the things I'm curious about is how can I reach a wider audience. In my volunteer endeavours, I've been looking at ways to reach more people with less effort.  But what I didn't consider is that so many people are not online. I wonder if these people would be interested in helping with projects within their community?

Mailbox note or community billboard are the main ways you get volunteers out here. I know many people who don't do facebook, and the next best "modern" way is to mass-text. Many people have bare-bones plans for cell phones which include text, so that might be your best bet. I only mentioning texting because it's much easier to send 1 message to 20 people that way than to call up 20 people individually.

The nice thing, in the rural anyways, is that even if people are glued to their screens, they've still got the values instilled in them to come out and help when called upon. It's just known that if you don't volunteer to do some tasks once a week, you might not have a skating rink next year.

 
Dan Grubbs
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I was recently engaged in a "spirited" discussion about whether we'd be better off without the level of technology we have today. I took the position that I feel we'd be better off without much of it. I was barraged with an onslaught of how horribly wrong I was and that I wouldn't enjoy many of the things I do today. I won't go into my discussion of pros and cons because that's not my point of this post.  But, something very interesting happened as that conversation went on. What transpired I've seen happen even among people who claimed to be progressive. The conversation very subtly migrated to mentioning people or people groups who were backward or somehow lesser in some way because they used less technology or very old technology. The conversation shifted to terms such as "they" and "that group." You could detect in their comments how they feel these people are not as advanced as a society. I suggested that technology is not a measurement of success of a society; and quite candidly, is often the cause of the collapse of an advanced society in the past. I piped in and made a very bold statement saying that viewing a people group as lesser than yourself because they choose to not use the same level or kind of technology as you is going beyond condescension and elitism but is bordering on racist. You can imaging the ire that inspired.

But, in the hopes of spurring good dialog about this topic ... I know many in this forum (internet use notwithstanding) have chosen to adopt agricultural approaches that many in the world see as backward, outdated and not sophisticatedly modern. I'd like to hear from those who have rejected some level of technology (draft animals for tractors; wood-burning heat for gas-forced air; tiny cob house for a suburban split entry; etc.) to hear of the prejudicial treatment you've experienced because of your choices and do you regret your decision.

Please respond in the spirit in which this question is offered ... in exploration.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Well, we live with out the internet since it isn't available where we live. The only way we can do any "internet" things at home is to use our cell phones and that is pretty sketchy since we only get one bar for tower signal strength and that is while standing outdoors.
We could get the pricey satellite hughes net but  we have better things to spend that kind of money on.
Eventually we will have to bite the bullet but for now, if we need the net, we drive the 5 miles to town and sit in Rotten Ronnie's, sipping an iced coffee so they don't ask us to leave before we are through.

Redhawk
 
Jan White
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A few years ago we lived in an RV parked up a old forest service road for eight months and got used to not having internet.  We were just going to work every day and didn't have much else going on so it really didn't impact our lives much.  No rent, utility bills, etc. so no online banking needed.  Communication with people was through texting since cell service required standing in a certain spot outside and turning this way and that and waving the phone in the air until you got a signal.

We have our own property now and haven't had internet at home for over a year and a half.  Recently, I've been able to use internet at work a certain amount because it's a slow time of year.  Before that I had one day a week in town when I used the internet to pay bills, check email, and research how to do all the things we suddenly had to know how to do after buying bare land and starting absolutely everything from scratch.  Not having access to all the instant information online was the biggest challenge when we were first starting out.  Projects we were right in the middle of would get put on hold when we'd run up against something unexpected and not know how to deal with it.  Every week I'd have a list of stuff I needed to look up and every week I'd get through half of it cause I'd also be doing the week's laundry, shopping, etc. and just didn't have time.  Once we got shelter and heat sorted out, there wasn't so much urgency to our projects and delays weren't such a panic anymore.

Even when I am online, I'm not on facebook or anything like that and I've starting getting annoyed at how much stuff is only on facebook.  I recently spent quite a bit of time looking for people with unwanted fruit I could take off their hands on online classifieds and in the paper - we actually have a really good local classifieds paper that gets a huge amount of use.  Not much luck.  I mentioned to my mum to keep an eye out and right away, "oh, I saw a bunch of stuff posted on facebook."  Last summer my dog wandered off early one Friday afternoon and we weren't able to find him before dark.  He's a basset hound so he follows his nose... and then somehow gets lost.  (He was lost for two days about a click from our RV one time - sure looked relieved when I found him!)  I phoned the SPCA, but the office was closed for the weekend.   We don't have any residential neighbours, but I phoned a nearby golf course to see if anyone had seen him there.  Nope.  The next day, though, I got a call from an employee there who'd seen my dog's picture on the SPCA's facebook page.  BAH!  No one was answering the phone, but they were updating their facebook.

A couple of my friends now don't have phones or email and can only be reached via facebook.

So, yes, not having access to internet is going to restrict your life.  You can have a lot of fun at a party and meet a lot of people without ever leaving the house.  There's a lot of stuff going on in the backyard, though, too - stuff that would never happen inside!

For me, I'm more social when I have the internet.  Interacting in person with people can be tiring for me, especially when it's someone I don't know well.  My job involves interacting with people I don't know all day so by the end of the week, I don't want to see anyone.  I will write an email though.  I'm also more likely to contact someone with an ad online asking for help picking their plums than to knock on the door of a house with unpicked fruit in their yard (although I do this, too.)  My husband is less social with internet around.  Despite how useful it would be to have access to it at home, we're probably not going to get it any time soon because of how sucked in he can get.  Our relationship is better without it and we're (I'm including myself here just to be kind ) probably more productive.  I don't think the internet can be blamed for loneliness and isolation; it's too dependent on the person.

Despite some annoyances, I don't feel too deprived having very limited internet access.  I find it's like tv a bit.  If you don't watch tv for a year or two, then start again, all the tv shows you used to watch without thinking much about it seem sooo stupid and boring.  If I don't have something specific to do online, the internet often seems pretty unappealing to me now.


 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Gosh, what an interesting topic - thanks r!

My knee-jerk reaction was that the 20% without internet was likely senior citizens, but that's largely based in a video I recently saw. I tried to find it to post here, and I couldn't. This 20-something young man goes without internet, without his cell phone, without TV, without leaving his home, for one week.

The young man records a daily vlog of his experience and becomes quite despondent toward the end. At the end of the video, the young man talks with an elderly man about the loneliness of many senior citizens. The older man had lost his wife, and was too depressed to go out or make any connections without her. Any way, a bit of a different twist on being connected to people - whether virtually or in person.

We have middle-aged neighbors who don't have the internet, though I think they have rather limited data plans on their phone if they have to do something online. I think they mostly use phone calls or text messages to stay connected.

We've had lots of residents here who are attempting to live a very frugal, no frills lifestyle, most of them younger. I know that these permaculturalists would likely not pay for internet themselves, though we have internet here at wheaton labs for them to use. When you're trying to get out from under "the man" the less bills and overhead you have, the better! I can respect that!

Even here in rural Montana, I am surprised at how good our connectivity is with our internet. It's not quite good enough for some of the video things Paul wants to do, but for our location, I think it's kind of amazing. There are internet providers promising to be in our area soon with even better speed, which would make Paul very happy.

I think there are great ideas in this thread for connecting with volunteers and such outside of the internet (or Facebook, by criminy!). I have a fondness for community bulletin boards myself, though I wonder how much people actually look at them these days. Group texts are a good idea, too. When I first started my business over eight years ago, I went to these eco-minded cocktail hours (me, at a cocktail hour?! I don't really *do* cocktails...) which actually ended up being quite cool and I met a lot of really neat people and new clients. They had to be done just right though. Another group tried to do "green" cocktail hours and those weren't nearly as nice.

In terms of simply connecting socially in "meat space," as an introvert, who grew up in the "Seattle chill" culture, I learned that the best way to connect with others when out and about was through kids or pets. Boy, people of all ages will feel comfortable talking to someone with young kids or a dog! Even with everyone's phone addictions these days, kids or pets will draw people out of their screen addictions. Barring that, I'm far more comfortable with age and experience just talking to someone without the excuse of a baby or puppy now. Even if it's just a kind observation of some thing - "cool bike!" or "nice save!" etc.

I'm fascinated by how much a lot of people know these days from using their connectivity to educate themselves - all the Google, YouTube, Podcasts, etc. can really fuel one's passion for knowledge. Even or especially young people who don't yet have the maturity, experience, skills or funds to make things happen as they wish they could. There's an irony there. And I know I'm not always as focused or good at using my connectivity to further my knowledge. There's a lot of distracting puppies and kittens....

My parents (senior citizens) are not as interested in going online for their interests or needs, nor do they really use apps on their phones. They still rely on manuals (reading a manual can take a LOT longer than finding a 2-minute video instruction on YouTube), and watch a LOT of TV for their information, connectivity, and entertainment. Which reminds me that I recently heard about https://gogograndparent.com/ which is a phone service to connect folks like mine (without an app) with uber or lyft drivers. I think that's a smart little niche. I wonder if there are other niche services like that to bridge those without internet to things normally found online.

Most internet is wifi these days. LOTS of wifi. I kind of wonder if how sitting became the new smoking (as a health concern), whether excessive wifi EMFs will become the new sitting/health concern in the near future. Wifi is just such a standard these days, that a lot of folks don't even think about using a hardwire ethernet cable to connect their computer to the internet. This could be kind of helpful for those in rural locations because bandwidth is lost in wifi broadcasts - you typically get better speed being plugged in. And then there are less EMFs, too.




 
Mark Tudor
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As a kid there was no internet, and personal computers were just becoming a thing in high school. I can still picture the local library and rummaging through it for entertainment, and later the annoyance of researching for homework. It was an outstanding resource despite being tiny compared to others I used as I got older.

Now I see the internet as the digital version, layered with lots of garbage content to get through. I imagine a library where all content is contained in commercialized magazines, and you flip past 3 pages of ads to get to the next relevant article. Fortunately, some magazines focus on quality content and not so much selling, and some sites like Permies are the same.

I would find it frustrating to have no access at all without having to drive down the road, but that's partly because I know - that I don't know - what I need to know going forward into a hopefully more nature-based, outdoorsy lifestyle. I've started building up a library of physical books as well as virtual references via PDF files and links to sites and videos. A library is still handy, but there are so many books out there that a given branch doesn't have, that you would never know about without searching online. Online access has definitely made the world smaller while also expanding the scope of knowledge we can share.

On the social aspects I think there can certainly be benefits to online interaction. Rural folks that aren't constantly driving around might not see many people, so any sort of interaction can be beneficial. Listening to podcasts or watching videos is nice (I now read forum posts in the person's voice if I've heard them in enough podcasts, like Paul and Jocelyn) but if that's the only access a person has I don't believe it is enough if there's no true interaction. I think face to face interaction with feedback is very important for maintaining good mental health. Consider someone that's locked up in jail, surrounded by killers and rapists- the worst punishment a prisoner can be given is solitary confinement, isolated from those who otherwise harm them...

I think internet access can be very handy as a tool, either as a resource for information or as a stepping stone to direct human interaction. Meetup for example can be very handy for finding existing groups with similar interests, or for creating such a group to see who is out there, like posting a note at the post office or library. With the exception of youtube videos a person can get by finding new info on lower bandwidth using a lighter browser that doesn't try to load flash and other data intensive plugins,but the social interaction of texting/email just doesn't cut it for me compared to talking to people directly. Human beings have lots of physical cues that go into communication, and I think we are wired best for that face to face interaction where body language and vocals play a big part beyond the typed word.
 
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