The Internet: Of the good and the bad

22 Jun

I would be lying if I said that I hate the internet. Heck, I even experience withdrawal after just 2 days without an internet connection or access to the net. To me the internet is my research buddy, my unlimited phone line to my friends and loved ones, my diary, my entertainment and even at times my teacher (on various things). It is my stalking instrument and my gossip agent. Through social networking sites (SNS) I can get the latest scoop on my friends and yes even people I dislike. I can get bored and yet spend numerous hours on the web just randomly surfing about any random thing that comes to my mind. This is what the internet is to me.

I do admit that although I don’t hate it, there are certain aspects/effects of the internet that I don’t like.

Easier connections make us belittle communication.

Bill Gates (2000), in his essay about the internet said that “the internet makes the world smaller.” Through it people from different parts of the world can easily communicate with each other. This is most certainly true today where you can get answers and comments in your Facebook or Twitter in real time, chat with people online and even have a video conversation through Skype.

True enough that the internet indeed makes communication easier, but with that I believe that it also makes us belittle communication somehow. Belittle in a sense that since we know that we can easily communicate with people on our own terms and our own times, we procrastinate and put aside talking to some people. Think about it. In your social networking sites, how many out of your 350+ contacts do you purposely talk to when you’re online? If you talk to half or even more than half of your contacts then, wow! I admire you.

The question of privacy

How private is “private” on the internet? As Bill Gates predicted 10 years ago, we are now relying on the internet in sharing and exchanging sensitive personal information with different parties that we communicate with. We share financial information when we purchase products online, share our home addresses and contact information when subscribing to magazines or signing up for promos, and even share secrets with chat-mates or in forums. Even with the promise of privacy and anonymity in certain cases, how sure are we that the information that we share on the web is really protected?

I believe that this is one of the more serious issues that we have to face about the internet and technology as a whole. More than privacy settings that certain sites now offer, more discussions and laws (international and/or country specific) should be created. Until that time comes, we as the internet users should be more careful about the information that we share online. We should also be extra critical of the online services that we use.

It breaks barriers and yet creates new divisions.

If I wanted to I could chat with someone geographically living millions of miles away from here in real time. And it would be easy to do so. I can also get the same information from the same online articles that a doctor or a teacher or a CEO would read. I can find out about a certain place without having to actually go there. I can find out how a person looks like without actually having to meet them physically. And again, it would be easy to do so. These are only some of the many barriers that the internet has broken.

But what if I don’t have access to the internet? What if I don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter or a Tumblr account? What if I don’t play Farmville or Restaurant City? What if I can’t use the computer at all?

Now there is a division between internet users and non-internet users. This can be classified under the phenomenon known as the digital divide which is the gap between people who have effective access to technology & digital information, and people who have limited or no access at all. It is a fact that not everyone can use the internet. There are people who don’t have the resources to access the net, and at times they are looked down on because of this.  I also believe that there is a division between internet users that use social networking sites and those who don’t. Especially with the younger generations, those who do use SNS are considered to be in the loop while those who don’t have accounts in SNS often feel left out.

Even with what it has become today, I believe that the internet is still relatively young. In the many years to come there will most certainly be more developments which I really want to live long for. Despite all the issues, I believe that it’s all worth it. The internet is indeed a revolutionary being that can change the way humans live. The fact that people are aware of these issues shows that these are being talked about, and pretty soon solutions will be made.

Change cannot be done overnight so what we can do is to update ourselves on new developments, educate ourselves with the new technologies and reflect on how all of these things affect our lives. We should avoid focusing on the negatives and instead have a more positive view about things. Moreover, we should all keep an open mind for the things to come. We should all keep moving forward.

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5 Responses to “The Internet: Of the good and the bad”

  1. xydc June 23, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    Catchy intro! 🙂 Here’s an aside. Imagine if we sit together, talking about our comm blogs. Weird, isn’t it? It’s a topic not really for face-to-face conversations. Here we can at least think about what we write. I think that’s one advantage of the Internet as well.
    But then again, we have to think and be responsible of whatever we post online. That’s the least we can do to be a good netizen. 🙂

    • Pattydc June 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

      “Here we can at least think about what we write. I think that’s one advantage of the Internet as well.”

      –I don’t agree completely. I think there are times when people ride on the “anonymity” aspect of the net too much that they sometimes do rash things like upload sensitive information of other people, make rude comments on blogs or forums, etc.

      I do agree that we should all post responsibly. What we post online does reflect who we are.

  2. thetrialballoon June 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I agree that the Internet actually ‘breaks barriers yet creates new divisions’. It breaks barriers in the sense that it promotes non-bureaucratic and non-hierarchical communication. Yes, it is true, we could now have the same information accessed from the Internet as our professors. Internet knows no powerful man or group to favor.

    However, this very thing promotes hierarchy in itself. A good proof would be the emergence of jejemons. Many would judge that jejemons delineate a low-class education because of their language. They would say that jejenese is like a degradation of a language-whether English, Filipino, etc- that not-so-intelligent people would bother to do.But then, Facebook itself even recognizes ‘leet speak’ as one of the languages. I personally do not like to have my friends post a message in jejenese in my wall nor I am comfortable deciphering what the words mean. In the cyberspace now, there is already a hierarchy existing, more than mere questions of economic, political, or social status.

    • Pattydc June 26, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

      You have a good point there. Even in cyberspace there is a notion of hierarchy. I admit that even I don’t like it when my friends use “jejenese.”

      Your comment has made me think that maybe digital divide has evolved into something more than pc/internet users vs. non-pc/non-internet users. Being somewhat of a world on its own, the different communities online may be creating a new kind of cyberworld hierarchy.

  3. barrycade June 28, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    i appreciate that there’s a balance in the coverage of what’s good and bad about the Internet. One idea that I thought you should have discussed more is digital divide and its impact on those ‘left behind.’i’m also missing the OrCom component–what all these means to your profession, your practice. 🙂

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