The internet: good or bad?

Love it or hate it the internet is weird and amazing. There are literally millions of photos, websites, books, videos, and things you wouldn’t imagine. Information, random silliness, people’s livelihoods. And yet ten years ago, it didn’t really exist for the so-called ‘average’ person. Now it can be hard to find anything (or anyone) that doesn’t use it. In fact it’s quite annoying the number of shops or companies that say: go on Twitter and do this, follow us on Facebook to find out this and win. What if you don’t use social media, which many people don’t? Some people actually manage to survive without a computer, never mind access to the internet.

I saw this description of the internet that showed an iceberg, and apparently only a tiny portion of what’s online is available through a search engine like Google, and the bigger bit, the bit that isn’t accessible, is called the ‘deep web’. To find stuff on there you have to already have some idea of what you’re looking for and go to websites that are related. (e.g. researching family history, go to a genealogy website and search that, and you’ll get results that will never come up on Google.) Search engines also make a sort of profile based on previous searches and which webpages you visit, and when you do a search it decides which results to put at the top as being most relevant to you.

IMG_5404 alteredInteresting the things that go on that you don’t know about isn’t it?

The internet these days is all about immediacy and ease: instant communication, sharing, giving opinions. Posted on another blog, Daily (w)rite, is an piece about E.L. James (author of 50 shades) It was put up three days ago and already there are 82 comments. When you order something online you generally expect it to come within a week, if not a few days, even on standard delivery. Whereas not that long ago it wasn’t unusual for online orders to take a month to arrive.

I think sometimes we forget how much and how quickly things have changed.

The good vs bad bit:

  • As already mentioned, people can communicate and share with others around the world in moments. On the other hand, that means it’s easier to spread hurtful or injurious things as well as the more positive.
  • Anyone can put things out there; set up website or blogs, find friends and information, stay in contact with people. Share. The problems come when people are expected to do these things. There’s also such a thing as too much information, which makes what you want hard to find. Also, if everyone can give their opinions and share their experiences, and they don’t have to say what they’re basing these statements on, how do you know which information is right?
  • As a wannabe writer? I have more options than before about how to publish my work, I can connect with people to discuss writing, I can share my work, I can write this blog. The bad? I’m not entirely sure yet. I thought at first that expecting writers to have an online presence (especially when so many of us are confessed private, shy people who lack real confidence in our own work) wasn’t fair. But then, how do you grow in confidence if not by making an effort and taking what you feel to be a risk? And if you’re not confident enough of yourself or your work to brave the internet, how can you expect to survive the publishing process? The rejection letters and negative feedback you’re bound to get at some point?

Is it sad that we have to rely on people we’ll probably never meet for encouragement, friendship, advice, general companionship and socialisation? Perhaps. If we can’t find those things from the people around us though then it’s good, if sad. But what if the online world is stopping us from seeing our physical world? If we spend so much time communicating with online people that we neglect or don’t bother at all with those around us?

I’m not saying ‘bring down the web and burn the computers’! Just, don’t forget to look up once in while and make as much of an effort with those around you as you do with your social networking.

You should have balance and moderation in all things.

The internet itself is one of the (many) things that’s neither good nor bad. It’s the people who use it that decide, and what they use it for. You can be a positive presence, or negative, sometimes both, or in between. Because the internet isn’t alive really, although it grows and changes. It’s a reflection of the people who use it and the world we live in. Which is ironic when you consider some people spend more time online than off. Maybe it should be instead, it’s an extension of the world we live in. A projection of personalities reaching across the world. So can you really say the internet is a bad thing?

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