‘Preppers‘ is becoming a well known term in American culture. There are people prepping for a nuclear war, a zombie apocalypse and many other situations. Now, they’re even getting ready for a possible internet apocalypse.
The internet is something we rely on for a number of things. We use the internet for medical records, banking, communication, and so much more. If a source were to flip the proverbial switch, what would become of our reality as we know it?
The people at Eyebeam are asking that. On April 5, the Guardian Project and Commotion hosted a workshop simply known as “Practocalypse” (practice apocalypse). Set up like a kind of role-playing game, the workshop created a localized internet blackout. Using a collective of radio nodes, people had to create a wireless mesh network. The workshop was intended to get people to understand the need to create decentralized internet networks and internet ownership.
Recently, there has been a lot of cause to worry that the internet will go down or be lost. Rumors flew around in 2012 about a day when the internet was supposed to shut down, but that isn’t the only reason to worry. Governments have been threatening to cause internet blackouts or to block sites. During a revolution, the President of Egypt instituted a blackout there. In Syria, internet blackouts went hand-in-hand with military offensives. During the national elections in Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blocked several social media internet sites, declaring that they were a menace. In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has flirted with the idea of an internet kill switch. Add to that the recent internet password issues as a result of the ‘Heartbleed’ bug, and preppers are getting some proof for their anxiety.
Some conspiracy theorists have accused the government of being behind the ‘Heartbleed’ bug, claiming that the NSA must be using the internet against the people. White House National Security Council spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, responded with, “If the federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL. It is in the national interest to responsibly disclose the vulnerability rather than to hold it for an investigative or intelligence purpose.”
Whether the government was behind ‘Heartbleed‘ or not, it’s part of a long history depicting the internet as corruptible. For some people, it remains another aspect of proof that an internet apocalypse could happen.