Many of those who grew up with the Internet can hardly imagine a life without it, and even older generations have become so attached to their digital lives to such an extent that being separated from it would feel rather like losing a limb. However, while the benefits of the Internet might be obvious, it is important to remember that change brings with it both good and bad consequences. While we might laugh at those who strictly eschew modern technology, they do have a few important points to make by reminding us of some of the things the Internet has irrevocably mined.
#1. Physical Media
Physical media is becoming rarer every year as people turn to digital distribution platforms or, more often, illegal file-sharing platforms. Today, there’s a good chance that your nearest shopping mall doesn’t even have a record store. These days, almost everything that can be distributed digitally is distributed digitally. With the growing popularity of the Amazon Kindle and other e-book readers, the future of even printed books looks uncertain. However, many would still argue that the newer alternatives are no substitute for something you can actually hold in your hands.
#2. Letter Writing
Back in July, 2015, New Zealand’s postal service announced that it was going to start delivering standard mail only once every two days rather than daily. The change, which will likely come to other countries soon, is hardly surprising now that fewer and fewer people are sending physical letters. The postal service going the way of the dodo indicates the final nail in the coffin for the lost art of letter writing. Along with it goes the ability to write by hand or even the ability to make much of a real effort to get in touch with someone.
Wikipedia has revolutionised the world of knowledge, and many would justifiably claim that it’s done a brilliant job of doing it. However, it’s important to remember that Wikipedia can be edited by absolutely anyone, so it’s hardly going to be the most reliable source of information. Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s popularity as the world’s fifth most visited website has also made traditional encyclopaedias, including their online counterparts, increasingly irrelevant as far as most people are concerned. After all, who wants to rifle through a dozen printed volumes for a quick answer?
Most social media users and forum posters feel a degree of empowerment when they’re sat in front of the computer screen. After all, they often find themselves in a situation where they can speak their mind, even if it means upsetting everyone else. However, a lack of subtlety and awareness of one’s surroundings isn’t just a trait to associate with Internet trolls. Many people misguidedly share their thoughts on social media when they really shouldn’t, and it’s entirely because they feel more comfortable being physically disconnected from any potential repercussion.
The same people who like to share everything on social media are also surrendering their private lives. After all, a lot of people don’t think about the consequences of sharing their lives online. Others however, have fallen victim to any of the multitude of privacy breaches that social networks have themselves have, at times, perpetuated. These days, any potential employer or partner can look someone up online, even if they’re not the type to be active on social media. Recent revelations about government surveillance are also a major cause of concern.
#6. Avoiding Spoilers
If you’ve just started watching the hit TV show Game of Thrones there’s a good chance you already know what’s going to happen but, if you don’t, you’ll probably find out prematurely by mistake. The Internet has made avoiding spoilers extremely problematic, since you don’t have to look too far to read the big news. In fact, sometimes the only way to succeed is to completely eschew social media, avoid news websites and perhaps even avoid all human contact altogether. The same goes for everything from sports results to video games.
#7. Blind Dating
Some might even go so far as to claim that the Internet has mined dating entirely, although that is perhaps a little too cynical. However, there’s no doubt that the Internet has taken a lot away from the traditional dating game while also making it easier than ever to find potential partners . These days, people are usually able to find out more about a potential date than they would find out in months of actual dating. At least a third of couples now initially meet online and, while there’s a good case for Internet dating others would say it’s taken a lot of the romance out of it.
One of the most prevailing characteristics of the modern world is that everyone wants everything to happen immediately. We shop online because we want to buy something now, just as we turn to Wikipedia when we want answers without delay. People have notoriously short attention spans when they’re browsing the Internet to such an extent that around 70% of people will leave a website just because it takes three or more seconds to load up. At the same time, people are desperate for faster and faster Internet connections as any semblance of patience vanishes utterly.
#9. Correct English
A quick scan through anyone’s Facebook timeline is usually more than enough to see what terrible things that a combination of a poor education system and the Internet can do to the English language. However, it’s not just the fact that modern technology has given rise to an entirely new vernacular. Studies have consistently shown that the increasing obsession children have with technology is wreaking havoc on their spelling skills. There are many tech factors to blame, like predictive text and spell checkers but, of course, plain old laziness doesn’t exactly help.
Any well-informed young parent is likely to agree that this is frightening age to bring up children in. For a start, 932 of boys under the age of 18 have already seen hardcore Internet porn, with most children seeing it for the first time long before they even reach their teens. Unfortunately, however, even taking the Luddite approach is not likely to help much, unless parents isolate their children from the modern world entirely. Sadly, the age of innocence is now long gone, and today’s families have to deal with that reality as well as the fact that it’s never going to change.
Depending on who you ask, some would say that the Internet has destroyed society while others would say that the opposite is true. However, the reality of the matter is far more complex than it being just a matter of opinion. On the other hand, the Internet doesn’t so much change how information is communicated; it just makes it far more accessible. It’s undeniably this increased accessibility of information that marks the inevitable next step in our evolution, but there’s also little denying that it’s making us lonelier and more socially isolated.