Internet optimist or pessimist

As part of our blogging tasks, we are asked to blog about whether I am an optimist of the internet or a pessimist of the internet and if we think the internet is good or bad..Here’s my take on it…

Introduction  of the web

The web was invented by a man named Tim Brenners Lee,  he implemented the first communication between the HTTP client and server through the internet in 1989. The Web has since developed, with web 2.0 increasing the usability for users to collaborate and communicate with one another.  Web 2.0 gives a platform to openly share information. Web 2.0 components  involves tools such as blogs, wikis, and web services.

Optimist or pessimist? 

I am an optimist of the internet  as it brought many positive things to individuals lives, such as internet shopping, reading newspapers online, communicating online with video-calling, blogging, Tweeting, ‘Facebook-ing’. All the tools mentioned give platforms to enable vital communication. For example, telling your relatives that they are going to become an auntie, Uncle, Grandma, Sister or Brother.  I think it’s truly amazing how you can spread information in a matter of minutes to someone half way across the world. If you think about it, it’s crazy…50/60 years ago, individuals would communicate through sending letters in bottles and waiting for a reply. Nowadays, a simple tweet with a trending hashtag enables you to have a conversation with someone from Australia! That’s the beauty of the internet.

The internet is not only  useful for communication purposes, it’s good for entertainment purposes such as music, books and the radio. I love listening to music via Youtube, it helps me with my work and has the ability to calm me down during heated arguments with relatives or friends and can change my mood.  The internet is also becoming useful in terms of books for example,  accessing books is much easier for me especially since I have a disability so it’s more difficult for me to access books from the library sometimes, however, with one click via the University  library system I can read academic books on my computer. In  addition to books, being an online shopper is also one of the reasons why I like the internet, as I can find my shopping list on Amazon! I can find books, movies, mobile phones, laptops and Cookware. I don’t even have to move and I can find everything on my doorstep, next day delivery too which is always a bonus.  The internet is also a useful tool for the latest news and events. Through the use of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook individuals are more in touch with what is happening in other countries as well as their own, before news channels report it. For example  the disheartening  events in Ferguson with protesters and the police.  At first, the media would not report it anywhere even though there were tweets which were re-tweeted multiple times. Eventually, news channels started to report it and an increasing amount of people became aware of what was happening. The internet enabled individuals to have a voice, many of the individuals present in Ferguson felt trapped as media channels were not reporting the news, so they asked for help from other individuals across the world to spread the message. I think that’s amazing and that is one of the reasons why I like the internet as it gives individuals a voice.

Manuel Castells contested that the world is entering a new period of the ‘information age’ where digital information technology provides a material basis for an expansion of ‘the networking form of organisation’ in every form of social structure (1996:468). Castells described the internet’s print on society as that of the alphabet where it creates new forms of indentities , inequality and power in de-centered flows which establishes new forms of social organisation. For example, in the Arab Uprising, particularly in Egypt, individuals would form groups through communicating via the internet  and civic spaces were chosen for the purposes of social organisation.

Cons of the internet

The launch of the internet in the 1990’s was seen as mysterious and exotic, it was treated with suspicion in terms of the credibility of the internet. Who puts things up? Who writes what?  This could also apply to Wikipedia, as it enables individuals to change information.

In the 1990’s Emily Bell believed that the internet was a conduit for those who were up to no good, and called it the single most punishing entity.  The internet was seen as another form of technology which was a threat.

Howard Rheingold countered the argument and believed that the internet allows individuals to talk to people who may be suicidal, it could also be used for political activists, elderly, ill, and relatives. He believed that for the groups (mentioned above) cyberspace offers a lifeline and has the potential to be better than the offline world. I believe this is true to some extent as there are many individuals in the world who need someone to tell them how important they are and tell them that they are worth something. The internet does have the potential to save lives and inspire people. On the other hand, it opens up avenues for trolls and can lead to people committing suicide, or lead to depression.  Which is why sometimes I wish the internet had more mechanisms to completely block out trolls. It is also why I am also pessimistic towards the internet. There are social media sites which has mechanisms to report tweets or statuses, however, I do not believe this is enough as it requires 100000’s thousands of people to report the status/comment first for it to be removed.

The internet also gives opportunities to individuals to scam others. I almost got scammed on the internet this time two years ago, when I was bidding for an item, luckily I went through PayPal which I knew had policies to protect the buyer. I was told by the buyer that the item was coming and I asked for a tracking number just to be safe. However, I was not provided one. After a week, i contacted my bank and luckily I got my money bank and Paypal also approved the report I put through when I did not receive my item. Consequently, for a year I completed avoided Ebay in fear of being scammed again. Recently, I managed to overcome this fear and have started using Ebay on a regular basis. I learnt from this lesson and I always managed to be extra careful when selling/buying items on Ebay. I also encourage others reading this blog to always check if they have buyer protection, as they can exercise this right and always remain protected.

Malicious software and viruses is another con that the internet brings on individuals, as this software can lead to effecting home and business computers. From a student’s perspective, a virus could affect my assignment and ultimately lead to me losing my work. Which is why I always have virus protection software’s on my laptop. I recommend buy Norton or McAfee as they are trustworthy and always check for viruses on a daily basis.

To conclude, there are pros and cons to the internet, but I believe that if the internet is used in a good way then it’s a good tool to have and if it’s used in a bad way then it’s not a good tool as it can have negative impacts on society as well as our lives.

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