Comcast outage more than TV

**FILE** Comcast's name hangs in the lobby of its state headquarters in this Nov. 3, 2005 file photo, in Sandy, Utah. Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable TV operator, reported a 28 percent increase in second-quarter profit Thursday, July 26, 2007 as it saw a surge in subscribers for digital TV and its promotionally priced package of TV, Internet and phone services drew in customers. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, file)

The survivors will tell these stories for generations.

Earlier this week, Charleston endured a horrifying glimpse of how fragile modern civilization really is ... for nearly 12 whole hours.

It started around noon Tuesday, when children across the Lowcountry reported acute — and epidemic — boredom. Soon, millennials were denied food, coffee and other basic necessities when some businesses demanded payment in cash.

Netflix binges ended midstream, people couldn’t order cat food from Amazon Prime, and overweight white men were denied their God-given right to share doctored photos of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

There was no joy in Summerville; the mighty internet had gone out.

Estimates of the damage are still pouring in, but it has been confirmed that thousands of people in the metro area missed the Women’s World Cup semifinal match between England and the USA (no spoilers here). The RiverDogs game went un-televised, forcing fans to actually go to The Joe or — gasp — listen on terrestrial radio.

Thousands of people couldn’t check their email, get the latest photo of their friend’s dog or take quizzes that prove they are geniuses. And literally hundreds of people missed the chance to broadcast their brilliant real-time opinions on Nike and Colin Kaepernick.

In some neighborhoods, kids were urged to go play outside, where they stood in the grass staring vacantly at each other, their thumbs twitching uncontrollably like something out of a Stephen King novel.

This is what the Dark Ages must’ve been like, but somehow Charlestonians endured. Without reruns of “CSI: Miami” or “Dancing with the Stars” available on demand, one woman reportedly passed the time by reading a book. Some families chose to actually talk to one another.

Or at least text.

Of course, great tragedy often sparks heroism in others. All day long, people found a way to get online so that they could report being offline ... and post pictures of the U.S. flag. You know, to prove how patriotic they are.

Such resilience in the face of adversity is inspiring, and a testament to just how much of life is lived online these days. You have to wonder, if society collapses, and no one tweets about it, did it really happen?

This catastrophe began when an errant fiber optic cable in an undisclosed location was accidentally cut, suspending service to several internet and cable providers. Had social media been operating at full strength, no doubt a more interesting conspiracy theory could have been cooked up and disseminated for our entertainment.

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Luckily, the internet and television outages were confined to Comcast, Verizon and WOW! customers. Otherwise, Gov. Henry McMaster might have had to send in the National Guard with portable wifi hot spots. Or issue an evacuation order.

By 11 p.m., the universe was set right … just in time to see photos of tanks rolling in to Washington, D.C.

The moral of the story is, of course, to have a backup internet provider — like the town of Kiawah. Because this could happen again.

As it did on Wednesday, when Facebook and Instagram users reported difficulty uploading photos to the social media sites around lunchtime. Which denied millions the opportunity to see other people’s food.

Since that’s such an important step in the dining process these days, it’s a wonder people didn’t starve.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

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