“Kids are always on the Internet these days.”
“Are you still looking at that website?”
“When I was your age, we got on just fine without the Internet!”
The Internet is all over the place these days, connecting us quicker than we would have thought possible a mere ten or twenty years ago. Some people think that's a bad thing, that we're losing the ability to talk in real life or that we're being softened by the convenience of doing things online. Others think that those people are being alarmist and silly. No matter where you come down, one fact is indisputable. The Internet has changed our lives, permanently.
I believe that the Internet has brought many good changes to the world. I mean, NMG is Internet-based! Without the Internet, I never would have met you guys, and I would have no reason to be writing this article now. There are also many other social media platforms, all of which have their own sets of pros and cons that I don't have the space to go into right now.
Information is more widely available than it ever has been before. My parents tell stories of hunting through giant encyclopedias to try to find the fact they're looking for. If there wasn't a book about it in the library, you couldn't find out. Those days are now, for the most part, gone. If I want to know what the difference between an ocean and a sea is, I type the question into a search bar and get my answer.
The Internet also has downsides. There are security issues popping up now that simply wouldn't be possible without this worldwide network that so many of us connect to. There's regularly stories coming out about the new major hack or attack or vulnerability that affects thousands or millions of people. At the same time, people are working to protect themselves and others from those vulnerabilities. All that convenience may be balanced by the extra work and worry, the aggravation of endless security updates or coming up with yet another “secure” password.
There's also the fact that the Internet is designed to distract us. I'll get on to check my email before doing math and fifteen minutes later I'll be refreshing NMG for the eighth time, hoping for something new. Just in the time I've been writing this article I've stopped at least three times to “just check something” in one of the many tabs I have open in my browser. The line between doing useful things and wasting time is so thin that sometimes it seems to fade into the flashy webpages.
It's impossible to say that the Internet is exclusively good or exclusively bad. It's simply too large and too complex for that. Instead, I think that everyone needs to try to keep themselves aware of both the good and the bad. It won't fix everything, of course. For example, even though I know that the Internet is distracting, I still get distracted by it all the time. But I like to think that being aware of it makes it somewhat better.
What do you guys think about the Internet and all the complexities that come with it? Have you ever gone without Internet...and did it feel different?