The Big Switch Off

The Big Switch Off

There wasn’t really a giant plug and a massive socket. We knew that. But it provided a nice visual metaphor on the day of the Big Switch Off. The Prime Minister, looking more and more like a Quentin Blake drawing, limbs bent at obtuse angles, pulled the giant plug out of the socket.

There was a smattering of applause, and then everything went dark. They’d got the timing wrong. We should never have heard the applause.

We didn’t get much news after that.

When we voted to turn off the Internet, we didn’t quite appreciate how much we used it, or how dependent our lives were upon it. The damn thing had pervaded every aspect of our lives, and because of a momentary collective madness, we had voted to turn it off.

At first it was like, ah great, no more bile spluttering from Twitter, no more sick-inducing motivational memes on Facebook, no more terrible blogs from self-important nobodies, no more kitten videos on YouTube.

Then someone raised their hand and said, no more online shopping. No worries, it would be good for the High Streets. Then no more news. Even better. It was all fake or biased these days anyway.

No more health care.

That one came as a bit of a surprise. Turns out the NHS used the internet too. As did the manufacturing industries.

No food.


Every aspect of the supply chain used it too, apparently.

No one told us that when we were deciding on our votes. And when we learned these things, we weren’t allowed to change our minds. We’d decided. That was that.

No matter that we’d been mislead.

A single story about a kid who got eaten by his smartphone was spun out into a nationwide scare about the dangers of the connected society. No matter that a quick check of Snopes told anyone who wanted to know that the kid-eating smartphone story was a load of old tosh.

And the people who wanted to see the Big Switch Off, they used the internet against us. The irony. They bombarded us with propaganda that we lapped up. They fostered hate in the pro switch off people, and nurtured dissent and fractures on the Onners.

And we all fell for it.

We barely remember what the Internet was now. We live in huts outside the walls of the big city. We’re only allowed inside the walls to clean their toilets and cook their food, while we starve and rot, and doff our caps to the feudal lords.

They have expensive cars, central heating, jewels, jets, yachts, and three meals a day.

And when anyone looks up from the mud and asks why we can’t have maybe a bit of that too … you know, like a proper meal or two … we’re kicked back into the dirt and told that if we worked a bit harder, maybe we could afford shoes.

The Big Switch Off

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