The internet is a wonderful invention; a liberating, innovative tool that's provided us with an infinite fountain of knowledge at our fingertips, kept me employed and made it much, much easier to find pictures of naked people inside one another. For us in the West, the access to information is endless, but – and this will probably shock you – it emerged recently that North Korea's policy on internet usage is so strict it even trumps the so-called Great Firewall of China.
There's no Facebook, no independent media access, no nothing. That got me wondering what life would be like if internet access in the UK was just as restricted or, god forbid, if it didn't exist at all – snatched away from us in some inconceivably cruel power move – so I took to the streets to find out. London, what would life be like with no internet?
Scott, 22: It would probably make talking to people and keeping up with the news pretty hard. Although I suppose you've aways got newspapers and TV, so I guess it wouldn't be so bad.
Would life be more or less shit without the internet?
I always think it would be better, but it probably wouldn’t be. I rely on it so much.
Could you see yourself going to animal shelters to get your cat fix?
Yeah, I suppose I could. I guess you'd see less funny stuff from all over the world, but they'd probably be replaced with real-life experiences, which can't be a bad thing.
Would people engage less with porn if they had to go to the newsagents to buy it?
I think people might just have to use their imagination a bit more.
But would they still jerk off as much?
Yeah, I can’t see masturbation ever tailing off.
Martin, 33: I think it would be hard to know where to go with our lives. I've come to rely on it so much, so I'd probably be really worried about what I was going to do if it just disappeared all of a sudden.
Would there be a mourning period for the internet?
Oh, definitely. There’d definitely be something like that going on. It would probably go on for a week.
Kind of like a state funeral?
Yeah, something like that. People weeping in the streets, an internet router going past in a coffin.
Josh, 20: Not much, really. I work far too much, mate, so I don’t really use the Internet at all. Actually, I do use it on my phone a fair bit.
There you go. So how much would it affect you?
Quite a lot, actually. I use maps on my iPhone all the time – I’d be lost without it. I struggled to get here today, actually.
Can’t you read normal maps?
I can’t. I’m colour blind. I'm fucked if I don’t have something telling me where to go.
Would there be a rise in restraining orders because people wouldn't be able to get their Facebook stalking fix?
I’d probably get one on me, yeah.
What tactics would you use to stalk people?
I’d have to get a darker car. I’ve got a white one now, which is a bit of a giveaway. I’d use disguises, buy myself a balaclava, a load of sim cards – y’know, that kind of thing.
It sounds like you've done this before, Josh.
Elliott, 26 (left) and Connor, 25.
Elliot: Life would stop.
Would you kill yourself?
No, I'd probably want to start up my own internet, though.
Connor: I'd be lost. I wouldn’t know where to go because I use Google maps for everything. I don’t know where anything is.
Elliot: It would be fun. It’d be archaic and it’d be chaos, but it’d be pretty cool. People would start talking more. Like me and Connor here – we see each other once a day, we sit down, we have a chat, we don’t converse on the internet. This is real friendship.
That's sweet. What would you miss most about the internet?
Do you think you would pull more without porn?
I don’t know. I’d probably turn into a serial rapist, or become a pornographer and make my own stuff.
I'd advise the porn over the rape. Would the demise of the internet stop paedophilia?
Nah. I think the internet has actually made some perverted taboos sort of mainstream and acceptable in a weird way. Not paedophilia, obviously, but you could write on a forum that you like being shit on and you'll have 100 people agreeing with you.
That's true. It's a real force for change.
Shzan, 24 (left) and Alan, 22.
Shzan: Oh my god, it would be a bit life-threatening, wouldn't it?
Alan: If I haven’t got internet, that’s it, it’s game over for me.
What would you do with all the spare time?
I’d be bored. I’d sleep. I’d probably sleep the rest of my life away. Yep, hibernate.
Do you think everyone would start stalking people for real if Facebook was suddenly snatched away?
Shzan: Yeah, I stalk people on Facebook. I’ve written messages as well. Abusive ones.
Alan: Yeah, I think I'd stalk people in real life if there was no internet.
Okay. I'm going to walk away now.