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Is the Internet a Good Invention?

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Contemporary world comes with many technological changes and improvements. The biggest invention over the past century has for sure been the Internet. The whole idea of having people around the globe connected, experiencing easy access to every little piece of information you could possibly think of, or getting the comfort to work from your home was simply unbelievable years ago. Luckily, today’s generations get to enjoy all this and much more. The Internet is almost inseparable part of our lives and our biggest support.

However, the biggest inventions always come along with numerous critiques. Goldsmith (2016) states in his essay that “the Internet has been accused of making us shallow”. One would think that the world was a perfect, spotless place prior to this invention. The shallowest nonsense in the world cannot be blamed on the Internet. It has not made us start wars, or taught us how to offend, insult, hurt, or kill. Of course, I would not dare to go as far and say nothing bad ever happens on the Internet, but most of that would equally happen offline.

The Internet is offering us support through our everyday life. Leaving your house early in the morning, you can order a cup of your favorite flavored coffee online and avoid long lines, breaking news are only one click away, your watch never stops working or falls behind the time, and your calendar alarm will go off to remind you of your daily tasks. Your ten thousand miles far away friend is only one text away and missing your turn on a road is no longer an issue. All this allows you to keep focus on other things, since you can utilize the extra time that the Internet has given you.

Goldsmith (2016) says in his essay that we are accused of being antisocial due to the Internet. He argues that when he sees people on their phones, “people are communicating with one another: texting, chatting, IM’ing; and I have to wonder, in what way is this not social”. As a matter of fact, I would say it is even more social and less superficial. When talking in person, you respect social and cultural norms of a standard conversation. If you fail to do so, you are perceived as rude, impolite or ignorant. When in real life, you are maybe only having a rough day or for some reason do not feel like talking. At that point, you are not even listening or engaging, and you are being equally superficial. Whereas texting and chatting gives you the privilege to think and rethink what you are about to say, but also to respond when you actually have time to chat, and therefore allows you to engage more deeply and willingly.

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According to Ciarrochi and his colleagues (2016), compulsive Internet usage contributes to poor mental health. They have conducted a four-year long study, in which they have evaluated the mental health of adolescents and how it has worsened over the period of time due to the compulsive internet usage. On the other hand, Ciarrochi does not offer any examples of good compulsive usage in his study. Mostly because everything we use in a compulsive way is bound to leave consequences for our mental health, and the Internet is of course no different.

As an international student from the other side of the planet, I could only add that online communication has shown to be rewarding for me. I get a chance to see and talk to my family and friends at any given moment. If I struggle with explaining something in English or pronouncing the word, Google Translate is there to help me. Once I leave campus, Uber is there to give me a ride. When we play a volleyball game, I can easily inform my friends and family to follow it, by posting a photo. All that helps me engage more and socialize in a new environment.

Other authors, like Brand and Wegmann (2018) state that boredom entices the usage of the Internet and social media, and hence induces the addiction. They have conducted an observation study where they have watched people waiting in a line and realized how many of them actually spend the wait time on their phones. Later, they have experimented in the control lab conditions how boredom affects their subjects. They have found out that almost 98% of their participants chose to spend time on smartphones, using texting applications and social media. However, my initial thought was that this should be seen as a good thing. Having free time while waiting, participants decided to interact with their friends, check daily news, scroll through Facebook, or play a game. Isn’t that the social engagement that they have been accusing us we lack?

Knowing how and when to use the Internet should be everyone’s main concern, instead of pointing out so-called negative effects that could easily be contributed to television, fast food or fancying a sports team. General rule is that nothing is good in immense amounts and social media and the Internet are no exception to that. Why would reading a hardcover book be different from reading it on the iPad? How odd is it if I decide to play Candy Crush on my phone while waiting in the line, instead of nervously hopping around the counter? What is the source of frustration of older generation if we rather watch a YouTube video than TV? Everything has its time and place and the Internet has definitely earned the spot. So, in general, I think that the Internet is a good invention.

References

  1. Goldsmith, K. (2016). Go Ahead: Waste Time on the Internet. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldsmith-wasting-time-internet-20160812-snap-story.html
  2. Ciarrochi, J., Parker, P., Sahdra, B., Marshall, S., Jackson, C., Gloster, A., & Heaven, P. (2016). The Development of Compulsive Internet Use and Mental Health: A Four-Year Study of Adolescence. Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/dev0000070
  3. Wegmann, E., Ostendorf, S., & Brand, M. (2018). Is It Beneficial to Use Internet-Communication for Escaping from Boredom? Boredom Proneness Interacts with Cue-Induced Craving and Avoidance Expectancies in Explaining Symptoms of Internet-Communication Disorder. Plos One. 10.1371/journal.pone.0195742

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Is the Internet a Good Invention? (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-internet-a-good-invention/
“Is the Internet a Good Invention?” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-internet-a-good-invention/
Is the Internet a Good Invention? [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-internet-a-good-invention/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Is the Internet a Good Invention? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-internet-a-good-invention/
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