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Seven ways to survive life without the Internet
Jan 25, 2007 - 8:21:45 AM

Hong Kong, Jan 25 - The devastation caused to Internet lines by the Taiwan earthquake before the dawn of 2007 left millions across Asia cut off from email and websites for days.

In a world where high-speed connections have been taken for granted, the event has forced the world to face up to the reality of what life without the Internet would be like. In many cases it exposed people's inability to cope.

It is hard to imagine people ever lived without Google searches, e-bay auctions, online shopping and Skype. But in reality, it is only a matter of a few years since we somehow managed to struggle from one day to the next without ever logging on.

Charles Mok, head of the Hong Kong Internet Society, said the Internet disruption caused by the quake should serve as a 'wake-up call'.

'There are people who should think about whether they can plan their life in a different way,' he said.

'This earthquake ought to make them realise there are other things to do in life than going on the Internet. They should really find a better balance.'

Experts say there is no knowing when it will happen again. So to help prepare for the next time Internet connections in Asia are cut off by a natural disaster, here are seven things you can do to remain sane when the computers are down.

1: Pick up a phone. Put a voice to the names of business contacts you have known for years but never met or spoken to by phoning instead of emailing. Alternatively arrange a meeting over coffee. Hearing a voice or seeing a face is a far better way to build confidence, which can only benefit your career.

2: Use your legs. The world of instant messaging and e-mail has created workplaces in which no one speaks to each other - where orders, reports, requests are sent via the Internet. This may save you time but the consequences can also be bad for your health. Try instead using your legs - get up from your chair, take a walk around the office and talk to your colleagues.

In addition to building relationships, those extra steps and rest periods away from your desk will burn calories, rest tired eyes, stretch muscles and avoid strain which in the long term can result in bad backs and eye strain.

3: Go to the library. An online search may be fast and effortless, but there is nothing like a reference library to make you really appreciate the world of knowledge. Surround yourself in books and get a taste of what it was like to engross yourself in research before the Internet. The process is far more challenging and rewarding.

4: Write a letter. If you want to say something and can't do it in person, there is no better way than a letter. A good letter will be kept for years. Lisa Matthewman, a psychologist at the University of Westminster, says many people find it easier to express their emotions on paper. This form of communication is more appreciated by the person on the receiving end. 'It is a very warm gesture and women in particular appreciate them,' she said.

5: Rediscover the art of conversation. Use the time away from chat rooms and game sites to talk and play with your children, or just to have a family meal together. Resurrect board games, go for a movie, a walk - enjoy some quality time with your family.

6: Go shopping. With Internet shopping becoming more popular, there may come a day when it's not the done thing to go to the mall. Make the most of window shopping rather than browsing, go try on clothes, flick through and feel the weight of a book before buying, handle real cash or simply wander around one of the markets and take in the sights, sounds and smells.

7: Enjoy the freedom. A survey commissioned by Hewlett Packard last year claimed office workers spent more time - an average of four hours a day - talking to friends online and messaging than they did actually working.

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