Imagine waking up one morning, sitting down to check the day's emails and realizing it's gone - not the emails, but the website to even log in. It's surreal, like trying to get into a house without a door or windows.
For people who make their living online, like Carson resident Mark Hershier, this is a scenario that hovers between a really bad dream and the actual apocalypse.
Thankfully, Hershier's full-fledged digital nightmare hasn't come to pass, but only because he learned about it ahead of time.
Hershier is one of nearly 250 people who will lose their @kitcarson.net email address at the end of December.
In July, the co-op made the decision to terminate its email service at the end of the year, Kit Carson CEO Luis Reyes told The Taos News Monday (Dec. 11).
While there is "some cost" associated with the company maintaining the email service for its customers - which it has for nearly two decades - the decision was made because of changing demographics and online habits.
In the early days of the internet, a lot of Taoseños had an email address from either Kit Carson or La Plaza, the first internet company in Taos. They also paid for it. But over time, huge tech companies like Yahoo and Google started offering email for free.
"Times have changed," Reyes said.
These days, less than half of one percent of Kit Carson internet customers use the company's email service.
But for the people who do, it's a change with big consequences.
Hershier used to run an herb company and play in a band with three other guys in Taos. He was involved in a paralyzing car accident in 2009 and had to entirely concentrate his money-making efforts online. He mostly buys and sells domain names, trades in rock memorabilia and finds "any other way I can make a living on the web" - all from a bank of computers at his home three miles off of the main road in Carson.
While Hershier has much of his mobility back, he still suffers from the wreck. "I can walk again but I'm still in pain. I can't play guitar but at least I can type."
Reyes said the company first notified its email customers of the end-of-year change in July in order to give its customers six months for a "thoughtful and timely" transition. Notices were also sent in bills in September and November, Reyes said.
Not everyone got the initial email or subsequent notices.
David Fernandez has used the Kit Carson email service "ever since I got on the net," he said. He's aware that email is going away, but heard about it by word of mouth and not an official notice from the company.
Hershier, who said he "really pays attention" to his email, bills and official notifications, also found out by accident. His wife heard the news as an off-handed comment when she stopped by the internet company's office to pay a bill. It was only after a couple of phone calls that Hershier fully realized what was coming at the end of the year.
"I don't have any beef against [Kit Carson]. I've been happy...with electricity, propane and fiber optic. But maybe they'd mention it on their log-in page or anywhere on their website," he said.
The Taos News could find no information regarding the termination of the email service on kitcarson.net.
Now that Hershier knows what is coming, he's trying to make a list of every website and online service he uses so he can bring as much order to twenty years worth of profiles on the World Wide Web. From music streaming to his healthcare portal, and from digital currency to old standbys like eBay, Hershier has to change his email address on hundreds if not thousands of sites.
"It's the holidays. This is the last thing I wanted to be doing, but it has to take precedence," he said.
Fernandez, who only has the Kit Carson email, said he'll likely make the transition "to something like Gmail," but added he's not sure "what happens next."
"I'm going to trust that the people at Kit Carson are going to help me and all the others effected to the fullest extent," he said.