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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Could you live without the internet?

Ten million British homes are now connected to the internet after nearly four million households went online in the last year.

A survey by Britain's telecommunications regulator Oftel reveals the number of British homes with internet connection has risen by a million and a half since February.

The research also shows that more and more UK homes are choosing fully unmetered products with 24% of households connected to the internet in this way compared with 18% in February 2001.

With the explosion of internet use, could you now live without it? Has Britain become a nation?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The internet is great - so long as you don't become addicted to it. I have a friend whose husband is always on the internet, day and night, I have never seen him play with his young children. This is a real shame.
Dee, Switzerland

I thought I could live without the net - then lost my connection for five days after the storms last week - I was suffering withdrawal from not being able to talk to my friends after a couple of days. Today it was fixed - and I must have clocked up about five hours of connect time just catching up with what I've missed. Oh and I do have a real life too - the net is just an addition to it, not a replacement.

People really need to keep these things in perspective

Andy, England
Sure the net is a fantastic source of information and communication but people really need to keep these things in perspective. It's going to be very sad when you look back on your life and realised how many really important things you missed. There's a big beautiful world out there - go and enjoy it.
Andy, England

I could not carry out my job to the best of my ability without e-mail, my company has sites in London, Sheffield, Darlington and Runcorn. This makes e-mail an invalubale resource for communicating along with our intranet pages. The internet is also invaluable when trawling for information as I discovered whilst studying for my MSc at University. I would have found it very hard to study without it. Age is a factor, the older people in my office say they don't find computers as much a neccesity as I do.
Dan , UK

I could live without the Internet. I could also live without a car, a TV, video recorder, DVD player, telephone, bus, train, radio, cashpoint etc. But life would be much more tedious without them! Technology is there to make life easier. I use the Internet to catch up on global news stories, do research for work, book cinema/theatre tickets, get heavy shopping delivered, buy all sorts of things (from CDs to a washing machine) - I even found my current home through the web site of an estate agent!

I use the Internet at work to do research on companies and products, and I regularly e-mail friends to arrange our social lives. I'm doing a part-time degree course and I use the Internet to "talk" with my tutor and to submit assignments. I could do without the Internet, but I'd rather not, thank you very much!
Jemma Gordon, Birmingham, UK

I have certainly reached the stage where I only like to deal with a company if it has a web presence. I feel I am able to research its products/services at my convenience and then to communicate via e-mail, again at my convenience. Any company who cannot provide this needs to be careful. Despite all of the bad press over gloom, the Internet is growing in popularity and reliability by the day. I would struggle to manage without it!
Matt, UK

Why would you want to live without it?

Suzanne, Australia
Of course we could all live without the internet, but it provides fast, easy access to information on almost any topic you care to name and makes it affordable for people from all over the world to communicate. Why would you want to live without it?
Suzanne, Australia

Your writer Ben - says it is a luxury. Well maybe. But I would rather have it than not - as I dare to say that we can not get the information we can now without the internet because the speed at which we are able to access it is terrific. NO please do NOT take it away it is a boon to many lives and it is essential to others. Think of medical procedures already undertaken using internet connections because it was available. The negative side still has to be dealt with - but we have a responsibility to ourselves and others - we can choose.
Tim Greening, UK

I'd have massive withdrawal symptoms if someone were to take my PC away. Then again, I would've said the same about TV several years back - and now I don't have one.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

I use the net as a tool at work and at home. It also provides me with entertainment, both directly and indirectly. I met my wife via the net, it was totally unexpected by both of us, given that she was in San Francisco at the time. I could do without it, although it makes all sorts of things more convenient.
Dave, UK

I'm a high school student with broadband in my room, and after spending two weeks doing little other than surfing the net I unplugged my PC and put it in the basement (I'm writing this from work). Sometimes the internet is too good for your own good, and after three days of no PC I feel my summer may yet be salvaged.
Patrick Cameron, Canada

There is more to the internet than the web. The web is what most people see as being the net, but there is more. Aside from the web there's e-commerce, instant messaging, email, chat, streaming video/audio, and many other things. It allows people from across the world to meet with others who have the same interests. For example, I'm from the UK, but I'm writing this from west coast US, at the house of a friend I met over the web. There was a comment above, about going without the net for 2 weeks, and going to real shops, and meeting real people instead. The shops online and the people online are just as real. Bridge the gap, because the internet is here to stay.

I don't have a life anymore as I'm addicted to the net. Soon you'll be able to do everything you need to do by going on the internet. The only time you will ever have to leave your house is to empty the rubbish.
Albert, USA

Of course I can live without internet. And I have plenty of other things to do. But internet gives me the most economical (euphuism for cheapest) way of staying in touch with Britain. It is simply convenient.
Joon, US (England)

Could we survive without it, of course. We could also survive without automobiles and gasoline powered engines - but life would become tedious, to say the least. The Internet is, perhaps, one of the most remarkable achievements of our age.
Ed, U.S.A.

Whilst it is a luxury, I would gladly do without many other things before I give up my internet access. Here in the US, I have a broadband connection via cable and surfing the net has definitely replace TV as my primary form of entertainment. I can't imagine not being able to read Irish, British, American and French papers on demand or tuning into a Paris radio station when I miss that city.

Having lived in Europe for several years, I love live cams when I get "homesick" and e-mail is essential. I've been thinking about moving to Ireland again, but the lack of broadband is a big factor against it. I think that in certain parts of the world, living without the net will be like living without radio or television. There are those who will do it, but they will be in the miniscule, but vocal (and Luddite) minority.
Michael Dundon, USA

The Internet is so useful to so many people, putting the power in their hands to make decisions e.g. choosing a flight to book. This may mean scarce resources becoming scarcer faster, as so many are is closer competition with each other. Alternatively, it may mean the supply of goods and services better tuned to our demands.

Lastly, while the info on the internet is great, be careful not to rely on all of it. With more people publishing freely, we may be getting more information from the non-experts instead of the "experts" - but then who's an expert anyway?!
John Chamberlain, British, USA

I have broadband, and when, in the next couple of years, the speed is increased again, people will realise the Internet's potential - real video-on-demand (EastEnders when YOU want it), pay-per-view movies, and of course music. Everything we use for entertainment now will be superseded by the great Information Superhighway.
Roy Davis, Northampton, UK

The internet will become an integral part of most of our lives

Mike, UK
Just like all new advancements, there will always be people who see the benefits, those who see only problems, and those who just aren't interested. However, just like the telephone and television, the internet will become an integral part of most of our lives.
Mike, UK

There's no other place available where you can discuss the finer points of hamster behaviour with a world expert, purchase organic slug killer and send a parcel of goodies to your nearest and dearest (and that was before breakfast!) I love the net - it's all my favourite things in one place!
Ali, UK

We've got 6 people in our house and there's always a constant fight over who needs the internet most. I think email is invaluable as it helps us keep contact with people we don't see anymore like my old school friends. And when travelling abroad, the internet is great when phone calls cost so much, just to say that you are ok. Don't know where I would be without the internet - lost, empty... Let's face it though, it's better to be addicted to the net than some drug, right?
Sabina, UK

I have learnt so much using the internet, and there is still so much more to learn! Without the net, I would have only learnt stuff at school, which is very basic, not in-depth like the information online is.

I don't like to think how I could have coped with my son's school homework without the internet

Catherine, UK
I don't like to think how I could have coped with my son's school homework without the internet. I've chalked up quite a few house-points and A-grades this year!
Catherine, UK

We live in the information age. Information is power. Having said that, not having access to the greatest tool in this age (the Net) is unimaginable. The Net is the greatest repository of our hopes, dreams, fantasies and knowledge.
P Das, UK

Why? Do you know something we don't?! Oh my God - they are removing the internet - aaaaarrrrgh, I'll have to start leaving my house again.
Paul, UK

The internet is only as good as what you contribute to it personally

Gary Wigg, UK
The internet is only as good as what you contribute to it personally. Most people are leeches, hence the reason why it is rubbish, and we could still quite easily live without it.
Gary Wigg, UK

I use the internet to help me do research on subjects related to my hobbies. What I can't find in books, I can find it on the internet. I suppose I could live without it but it would not be the same.
Graham Powell, UK

It is essential to work and home; as important, if not more so, than the telephone. Progress will hopefully allow it to become as ubiquitous and as easy to use.
Drew Wagar, UK

The internet has done for my memory what a misspent youth and weekends of excess failed to do, namely ruin it. Since discovering that pretty much anything I need to find out is on the internet somewhere, my memory has become at best a leaky colander. So long live the internet!
Paul Steven, Scotland

I feel distraught when robbed of my internet access!

Jereb T. Black, UK
I feel distraught when robbed of my internet access! Never has there been an easier way to communicate, discover information or shop. I spend a shedload of time and money online. This will seem commonplace in the future, but by all accounts, the rest of Britain has a lot of catching up to do!
Jereb T. Black, UK

Britain will never become a dot-com nation - RIP legislation will see to that. I could quite easily live without most aspects of the internet, although e-mail is very useful to keep in contact with friends and family abroad. The fact that people are connected doesn't mean they are dependant on it - all it shows is that people are aware that for a very small monthly outlay they can tap into a rich resource of just about any information they want.
John B, UK

The internet is really handy and a lot of fun - I have "met" so many people I would never have had the chance to otherwise. But live without it - of course I could. I may spend more time than average online but I still have plenty of time for the rest of my social life and a full time job. I could easily forego one of those (although I'd prefer to not have to work!).
Alan Greep, UK

Does taking your laptop on holiday count as addiction?? I'm not addicted. Honestly. I can quit anytime I want!!!!
Jonathan Bensley, Australia

I adapted by going out and having non-virtual conversations with real people

Mark R, UK
I recently lost my internet connection and had to do without it for about 2 weeks. Although I missed it, I adapted by going out and having non-virtual conversations with real people, and by visiting these things they call 'shops' whenever I needed to purchase items. It was a strange experience, one that may catch on someday!
Mark R, UK

The more I use it the more I see how it can make my life easier. It's like the introduction of the telephone. People can be closer together wherever they are, stripping down the barriers of race, culture and creed. Yes, I could live without it, but surely anything that can aid open communication is a good thing?
Graham Beale, London, UK

The internet allows me to work from home. I can communicate with colleagues in the US and around Europe using internet as a stepping stone to my corporate network. Without this capability, I would need to do much more travelling than I do today, or would require a high cost private connection to the workplace.
Andy Doran, UK

Of course we can do without the net. It's a luxury, and nothing more.
Ben, Paris, France (British)

The internet is becoming a part of regular life, checking bank statements, finding something to do at the weekend or booking the train to get there. It expands our horizons with access to resources we never knew existed. I could live without it but I would not want to.
Ed, UK

I intend to "boldy go where no search engine has been before"

Pauline, UK
Star Trek was wrong - space travel is commonplace but it's in cyberspace. The internet is a massive evolutionary step forward for communications. If it didn't exist we could live without it but, as long as it does exist, I intend to "boldy go where no search engine has been before".
Pauline, London, UK

One only needs food, air and water to live. Electricity, sliced bread and the internet are enjoyable luxuries.
Sascha, USA

It has its uses but I don't have access to it at home. When I'm not at work I don't miss it, but I must say it has helped me to search for things I would not otherwise have found.

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See also:

09 Jul 01 | Business
Internet use surges in the UK
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