Internet is probably the second greatest invention after the wheel. It has completely changed the way people communicate. Within a few years after the explosion of the worldwide web, the world has been reduced to a small village. In the past, obtaining information was a slow and boring process. For instance, one had to have access to a library in order to obtain information. There are certain limitations from using a public library. The facility operates at certain times of the day after which it is closed. It may not be possible to obtain particular reading material either because there may be few copies or the only available copies have been borrowed. With the entry of the internet, this status seems to have changed overnight. From the comfort of one’s home it is possible to access volumes of information online, keep in touch with friends or even study for a degree or diploma. Virtually anything that the mind imagines can be obtained via the internet. Such status has had a huge impact on the way people communicate, obtain and share information. Despite the fact that information has suddenly become easily available, one cannot be ignorant to the fact that there has been a culture shift. For instance, the learning culture has become less involving and inconsistent due to the use of internet. Students no longer have to work hard at their class assignments, for example. After all, answers are just a click away. Needless to say, most people have made internet integral part of their life. However, internet use is not without negative implications on people's life and culture.
Unlike other sources of information such as books, television and radio, the internet easily improves ones understanding of world events, scientific occurrences while improving the ability to communicate. However, there is a risk of people becoming over use on this resource. The purpose of this essay is not to paint the internet in bad light but to point out some of the risks to the way people obtain and use information through this channel.
In my opinion, this has robbed the society of the traditional initiative it once had to seek for information and use the same for diverse needs. The aim of this paper is to show the extent to which the internet has had such an effect on ways in which people obtain information and make use of it. Technology helps make work easier through efficiency and saving time. In this regard, the internet scores highly. Much as most people would tend to stick to the benefits, it helps to look at the other side of the coin as this paper will shortly show.
Cowen states that “There is no question that books are becoming less central to our cultural life.” (Cowen, 2011, pp. 578) Such is the effect internet has on a people’s mind. It has made it very easy to get any information one needs. This has harmfully affected the reading culture. Lazy students who choose to cut and paste content from the internet find the internet to be of value to them. Little wonder then that most people visiting a public library do not go to borrow or read books but rather to browse for content on the net.
Likewise, Christine Rosen "In the Beginning Was the Word" is in agreement that books are on the way to extinction. Electronic books have taken over. She writes in part, “But their widespread use has sparked broader questions about the relevance and value of the printed word and the traditional book” (Rosen, 2011, pp. 568). This is proof books are quickly becoming old.
Peter Suderman, "Treading Water in a Sea of Data" concurs by stating that “I’ve found it increasingly difficult in recent years to read books…” (Suderman, 2011, pp. 586). Many hours spent on the computer screen wear out the eyes, brain and entire body. The brain sort of shuts down after one reads a few lines. It has gotten used to scrolled pages or popping messages. It becomes difficult to follow arguments.
Advertisement is the most common method of business promotion done on-line. It is substantially effective, attracting customers for the product being advertised. However, social media websites are also known to contribute negatively to processes of advertisements. Cases of certain companies using social networking sites to destroy the reputation of other rivaling companies are not uncommon. Even so, there are certain ways in which businesses can avoid such incidences; businesses can aim at tackling this by giving attention to online communities, their interests and preferences. This way, the businesses and associated products could quickly earn popularity. In this regard, networking boosts business by advertising products.
Social networking also serves as a way of spreading readiness. In the olden days, it was widely known that information propagation by word of mouth was the effective way of carrying out brand awareness. However, this has been drastically replaced by the social networking sites. Social networking can achieve this once the brand is recognized by a significant number of people online. These would then initiate discussions and sharing information on the advertised commodity to other people on social networking sites. It is often common for individuals who are satisfied with the commodity to post their comments through this social networking. One cannot help but agree with Tyler Cowen’s claim on why people want to be on the web, “…just to have fun or to achieve some pretty straightforward personal goals—they may want to know what happened to their former high school classmates or the history of the dachshund.” (Cowen, 2011, pp. 580)
The human mind is created to be always chasing after information. Technology has put this natural ability at risk. Suderman "Treading Water in a Sea of Data" points at the problem thus “…the larger problem here is the conflation of boredom with lack of stimulus. The idea hinges on the notion that humans at rest are intrinsically lacking in some way that a mind cannot be at peace with itself.” (Suderman, 2011, pp. 588). The internet gets information faster than we can look for it. Through its regular use, we get hooked to being surrounded with new information every minute. The point here is that, the thirst for information cannot be extinguished unless some controls are put in place. That is where the problem lies since the hunt for information is a lifelong process.
It is remarkable how the learning has been changed by the internet. There have been a lot of benefits. Business opportunities have been realized, people have a larger capacity to acquire information and the amazing ability to reach out to as many friends as they can. An email takes only a few seconds to reach the recipient. One does not need to sit in a concert to enjoy classical music. Neither does a student have to flip through volumes of booklets. Shopping has gone online and so has gambling.
The world as we know it has gone electronic. These changes are permanent. However, despite all the benefits associated with the internet, it is crucial that side effects be addressed. Tyler Cowen is optimistic that technology brings efficiency and speeds up the way things are done. On the other hand Christine Rosen could not have said it better that “The fault, dear reader, lies not in our books but in ourselves” (Rosen, 2011, pp. 570)
If mankind can go to the moon, discover planets and spend days in space, then there is no limit as to how far technology can go. There is need therefore for self regulation. Controls might be put in place but there may be no police to enforce them. Everyone should look out for themselves. One should know when enough is enough. A little of both worlds should do the trick here.