Many discussions on how much the internet has changed the facets of life have existed for a long time. The internet has changed facets of peoples’ lives like communication, interaction, business, research and education. The internet could well be the greatest technological invention for the last fifty years. It is a combination of mankind’s history, collected knowledge, expression and thought in one community that is easily accessible to all. However, many argue that the internet has brought about a few negative contributions to human lives (Kavanaugh et el., 2004). It is undoubted that the internet has impacted our lives both negatively and positively. This article explores the position that the internet has brought about more positive than negative impacts on people’s lives.
According to Hartman & Ackermann (2000), primarily, the internet is used for communication. The internet has undoubtedly enhanced communication. It has increased the quality and frequency of interpersonal communications. People who have ease in communicating with others enjoy a sense of comfort as a result of the support from others. This would generally lead to happiness and fosters ease in interacting with other people in the community and society.
Kavanaugh et el., (2004) argue that the ease in communication through electronic means may contribute to weaker social ties. Psychologists theorize that face-to-face interactions can be challenging for some people. This is because some may have insecurity or confidence issues especially in romantic communications. This makes them opt to communicate with others in the comfort of their homes. People become obsessed with the less demanding internet-based communications and would rather stay at home than face other people in group or interpersonal interactions. Psychologists have described face-to-face communications as of better quality when compared to internet or telephone communications. This is because they generally contribute more to the well-being and satisfaction of the individual. Additionally, Kraut et al. (1998) in one of the earliest studies on the internet portrays internet users as being more depressed and lonely. He further notes that internet users are less involved with social undertakings.
One can not comprehensively list the many benefits that the internet has contributed to the field of business. The internet has introduced new ways of doing business (Abramson & Kieffaber, 2003). New internet-based currencies have also been introduced that make internet transactions faster and more reliable (Jantzi, 2012). Virtual products and services have been created to give the internet user different levels of satisfaction which can be equated to monetary value.
Internet-based applications like Facebook and Twitter not only enhance communication but also generate billions of dollars for their owners. Software developers also create applications and games which are sold in online markets or used to generate revenue for their owners. Applications that allow easier payments like PayPal are easy to use and effective. They have increased the efficiency of online business.
However, the internet has led to loss of business for some people. For example, the music industry has been adversely affected by pirated music. Musicians invest heavily in their trade but illegal online music-sharing sites have led to the decrease in revenues (Schonberger & Cukier, 2013). Although writers and film-makers enjoy the advertising opportunities that the internet offers, they have also been negatively affected by piracy of their works. Sites like Wikipedia have led to the reduction of hardcopy sales of encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Social anxiety has been a major contributor to internet-based social communications. People with poor social skills can depend on the internet to initiate and maintain relationships. With the rapid development of social networks, people are communicating increasingly through the internet. Introverts can effectively compensate for their social weaknesses.
However, some psychologists argue that social anxiety can be overcome though practice (Hartman & Ackermann, 2000). This involves indulging more in face-to-face interactions rather than through phone calls and the internet. Continued use of the internet for communication further worsens a person’s sociability and social; anxiety. This is because they become over-reliant on the internet for communication and start to believe that they are not capable of face-to-face communications.
A significant number of technological advancements have been facilitated by the internet. Because of the ease with which ideas are shared through the internet, collaborative efforts have created new technologies to make work easier and lives better. For example, the internet has facilitated the emergence of virtual currency forms like Linden Dollars, Facebook credits and Bitcoins. These are all different virtual currencies that the internet user can use to transact with online.
Over-reliance in internet-based technologies has led to the reduction of creativity among users. For example, instead of developing their own way of solving problems, people are searching the internet for solutions. Additionally, internet-based technologies like online gaming have reduced the indulgence in more quality and beneficial physical games like soccer. This may also have health implications for people who do not exercise regularly and whose eyes are exposed for long periods to computer screens. Relying on internet based solutions like learning how to play musical instruments has discouraged creativity.
Easier access to information.
The internet has contributed to the increase in the body of information and educational resources and made it easily accessible. For example, a simple search on the internet produces varied results for the user to choose from. Information from all disciplines and areas of life has been made easily accessible. Knowledge and skills can therefore be readily obtained from a simple search as opposed to twenty years ago when students had to use hardcopy material from libraries. Students can research more easily from the internet and access journals, books and informational magazines. This has greatly enriched the study process leading to more informed students.
However, educators agree that the ease of access to online research materials has made students lazy. In addition, students have often copied assignments straight from online sources without making an attempt to understand the content. Students are less likely to engage in meaningful research now as compared to twenty years ago when the internet was not fully developed (Harlvosen, 2012).
The internet has enabled the sharing of personal information through various means and forums. Emails and other online services like social sites and payment systems involve a registration process where the user provides a name and physical address. This has made tracing people easier. Complex systems used by the authorities can identify a person’s location when they login. This can help to trace the whereabouts of wanted criminals.
The internet has also contributed to increase in crime (Wall, 2001). Cybercrime often involves using another person’s credit card information to gain illegal access to that person’s money. Such criminals usually prey on the emails of unsuspecting people and hack into them. Other criminals use internet-based communications to stalk their victims and intimidate them. While the internet has led to the development of complex security systems, it has also made people vulnerable to violations and theft.
The internet has impacted significantly on people’s lives. Although critics argue that it has brought about negative impacts, one can counter all criticisms raised. For example, the internet may have led to losses for some businesses but businesspeople should be constantly aware of threats to their business models and adapt accordingly. Businesswise, the internet has done more good than harm. This is evidenced by the many flourishing internet businesses. In addition, with further investment into internet development, crime, security and privacy issues can be resolved. The internet can also be used as a learning tool. Its ability to be a social equalizer enhances relationship building. With further development, voice and video chats have made internet interactions more and more like face-to-face interactions. The dynamics involved with both types of interaction has begun to converge. The internet is, therefore, and indispensable technological tool that should continue to be part of people’s lives.
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