The Loneliest Number

I saw this yesterday when I logged onto Facebook:

I must admit that the phrasing of this got me feeling a bit lonesome. No one is online?

When do you suppose the final moment in human history occurred when there was no one online? I imagine that various computers, running various inscrutable ‘services’, have been trawling the internet continuously since the very beginning. But what about the last occasion when no human was actually poking around on it? Midnight on Thanksgiving, 1987? Maybe a year earlier, when Geraldo opened Al Capone’s vault?

I remember that around this time, my friend’s dad was a tremendous nerd and had one of those early modems where you actually placed the phone face down onto a receptacle that it yakked into. The whole thing seemed so remote and esoteric that I can sort of imagine a fleeting moment taking place around this time when not one of these bearded guys anyplace on earth was doing this.

9 thoughts on “The Loneliest Number”

  1. It’s scary to think that when the final moment of history comes and no one is on line it will be because Geraldo is reporting that event on TV!

    I’m glad to see that you aren’t all stressed about this–lesser people would be agonizing over whether they had been unfriended en masse.

  2. As for the no on online, I’d guess the late 70s given DARPA, CERN and Compuserve.

    Similar question: when was there no one in space? I think it’s been about 10 years given the ISS (thanks Russia!)

  3. Actually, my friend recently reported that I showed up in the loser-bin right-hand column of her Facebook– i.e., the ‘This person needs more friends!’ or ‘Say hi to this lonely person!’ column, or whatever. I was thinking of mentioning this in a self-effacing aside, but decided to stay on point and keep things brief…

  4. Please present me with a persuasive argument (seriously! I’m receptive).

    The only thing I hear over and over again is ‘I promised myself I wouldn’t get into twitter… but then I tried it and now I love it and spend all my time tweeting!’ Sounds like EXACTLY the kind of thing I should avoid.

  5. I’m on “it” but still don’t see the point. It may have something to do with the time zone difference but nothing’s ever happining when I show up (could it be me?).

  6. Trust me, I am all about avoiding distr… hey, look, a bird!!

    I’m the guy who purposely doesn’t play video games because of the potential time suck. But I guess the best reason I’ve found:

    “Facebook is for people you went to school with. Twitter is for people you wish you went to school with.”

    I know my neighbourhood much better because of Twitter.

  7. Indeed, it’s important to maintain a sense of discipli… HEY, LET’S RIDE BIKES!

    Actually, that point about neighborhood is pretty persuasive. No offense, but the Sam Brown quote is actually the kind of meta, coolness-oriented, not-all-that-persuasive-to-me explanation people are normally laying on me… but the neighborhood thing is a good point.

  8. Another nice thing about Twitter is the relationships are asymmetrical. I’m not on Facebook but I get the feeling that there much more af a social obligation to reciprocate? That’s fine but I don’t think it scale well.

    More of a stream that you can dip your toe into or jump into.

    Fair enough on Brown. But in addition to SF I get these fascinating glimpses into interesting people’s lives in London, NY, Brazil, Sydney, Tokyo… Same goes for following musicians, authors and scientists.

    Plus for selfish reasons
    – I’d like to get an idea of what your neighborhood and city is like
    – given how well you write, your throw-away one-liners will likely be awesome.

    How’s that?

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