On August 6th, 1991 the World Wide Web became publicly accessible to anyone who can afford a compatible device. A near 30 years later about 4.33 billion Internet users were recorded being active in the month of July 2019. In today’s society a world without the Internet is unimaginable, representing a foundation in human culture. A couple decades ago, the Internet could be viewed upon as an opportunity to venture business markets and contact relatives from across the globe. Others became cautious of the thriving phenomenon, claiming it is the genesis of pornography and criminal activity. In the current nature of the Internet, allegations made 30 years ago all rain true of its current patterns. The understanding that humans struggle to assimilate whether or not the Internet is positive or negative, does not come as a surprise. The Internet provides constructive opportunities to allow those to stay in touch, viewing and providing material, and relieving oppressing tasks, such as paying bills. Accordingly, the Internet provides improper and distasteful usage through fake news, corruption, and the dark web. Therefore, throughout the past couple decades the Internet has proven to irreversibly adjust the way humans learn, communicate and live ultimately underlining why the Internet is the most prominent factor in changing human culture.
To begin, since 2018, over 1.9 billion websites exist, 95 million Instagram photos are uploaded daily, and 4 billion of the 7 billion people on the planet are already online. Throughout the uninterrupted expansion of the Internet, social communication has altered in style, speed and quality. Currently, the Internet is undoubtedly the most powerful communication engine to have ever existed, although obstructs and modifies proper cultural interaction. Communication that does not adopt the qualities of tone, affection, body language and facial expression presents a challenge when representing human interaction. The book, ‘Silent Messages’ written by Albert Mehrabian explains his research on non-verbal communication. Mehrabian touches on the 7% rule – “the prospects studied assigned 55% of their weight to the speaker’s body language and another 38% to the tone and music of their voice. They assigned only 7% of their credibility assessment to the salesperson’s actual words”. Albert explains that 93% of all communication absorbed is directed through body language and tone. Although, as the Internet continues to endorse messaging application, this ultimately exempts Mehrabian’s work. Humans are unable to react and perceive the same feeling one would face to face, furthermore, increasing the Internet’s influence on human culture. To continue, the Internet provides instant gratification. The connectivity speed throughout the Internet allows for humans to always be plugged in; whether it is communicating with friends, family or acquaintances. According to the Radicati technology research firm, about “264 billion emails are sent everyday”, costing slight expenses, while the US postal service only sends about “484.4 million pieces of mail each day” at the price of “$165.6 million paid to USPS employees in salaries and benefits”. “With faster Internet and better computers, you’d better believe were creating and consuming more digital data”, – says Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation. Throughout the existence of the Internet, communicating has revolutionary changed the way humans have been interacting for over six million years. Sherry Turkle explains in ‘Alone Together’ that “our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other; we would rather text than talk”. In the past face to face synergy and physical, written letters has driven communication among individuals, although now human culture is reliant on the Internet applications to deliver memorandums. Furthermore, because of the inclined obsession humans have developed for the Internet, people would rather surf the Internet, than surf the waves.
The Internet has proven to be favorable, preforming many hard tasks at the command of a click, making human activity painless. There are millions of people accessing the Web each day seamlessly providing a culture that is too preoccupied to complete standard living conditions. Humans who develop Internet addiction, also known as impulse control disorder, often find themselves obsessed with what the Internet has to offer. Millions of data is uploaded daily on the web, making it easy to become glued and have intensified obsessive impulses, leading to pseudo-intimate relationships among human beings. Although argued to be useful, when not monotonized the Internet can be harmful for social life. To commence, the Internet is proven to be one of the major influences to damaging relationships and depression. “One of the major motives driving individuals’ Internet use is to relieve psychosocial problems (e.g., loneliness, depression)” (Kim, J., LaRose, R., & Peng, W., 2009). Due to the online tendency’s relationships are collapsing because of gaming, emotional, and sexual relationships supported through online platforms. Not only is the Internet proven to dismantle relationships but can also prevent people from achieving human interaction and health. Internet addiction are similar to other addictions in the sense that serious symptoms appear worse overtime. These mental symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, can create complications among family members, and without proper treatment can create unhealthy relationships. “Individuals suffering from this condition may be isolating themselves from others, spending a long time in social isolation and negatively impacting their personal relationships” (Gregory, C., n.d.). Thus, the overuse and addiction humans have towards the Internet is why social intimacy can have multiple negative effects. As human culture begins to modify because of the Internet, not accounting for self-managing and self-control will further establish humans as non-sociable homo sapiens.
Lastly, privacy among Internet users seems to differ from casual life privacy. The Internet provides an interesting shift, stressing on the fact that often in the real world, many humans are seeking extra privacy. Although, as the Internet and social media began to alter the 21st century, online behaviors began to change accordingly. According to Science Focus, “In 2005, when the Facebook accounts of 4,000 students were studied, it was discovered that only a small percentage had changed the default privacy settings”. Thus, the increase in Internet applications such as Facebook and Twitter challenge the privacy of humans and supports the creation of a digital network where privacy is scarce. Equally important, Edward Snowden explains that to reclaim your privacy a multitude of steps must be completed for optimal privacy. “This includes Signal, an easy-to-use app that encrypts your mobile phone messages, enable two-factor authentication on your accounts. A password manager, like KeePassX, will ensure your passwords are diversified across all accounts. The next step is Tor — install it, use it. Everybody should be running ad-blocking software, if only from a safety perspective” (Shoemaker, N. 2018, October 5). It is common in today’s society that teenagers are the fore front of privacy manipulation, simply because they don’t care. Privacy in today’s culture, due to the Internet and vast majority of major social media companies, induce a generation construct. Privacy to baby boomers defines as one thing, another thing to millennials, and almost nothing to today’s teenagers. Although to say privacy means nothing to a teenager is not completely factual, furthermore teenagers tend to direct their post to a specific audience to portray looking cool, tough, or attractive.
The Internet, as well all technology, does not produce cultural change itself. It is important to note that as humans we created the Internet that diminished our social lives, hindered our privacy, and presented virtual communication. Although, if humans wish to revert to the culture of face-to-face communication, privacy among all, and socially accepted by everyone, it is in our hands to change the way we act and use the Internet. The same hands that pick up a device to send over 100 text a day, to people we will probably see that night. To conclude, without the Internet it is clear we would not have associated with the large deployment of digital networking as an essential tool for social structuring and cultural change. As humans are, we moving to an era where the Internet mediates relationships? Perhaps, although the biggest concern is allowing the Internet to regulate our lives, as it has already begun through Internet addiction. After all, “the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, our world will have a generation of idiots”, – Albert Einstein.