Ah, the Internet. What more of a love-hate relationship could anyone have than with this intangible, all-encompassing, digital world? There are serious pros and cons to the World Wide Web-world. And although I‘m personally prone to focus on cons, I‘ll try to keep this balanced.
Pro: Mass information at our finger tips. From Wikipedia to peer-reviewed journals, to my mother‘s personal online blog, if something isn‘t found on the Internet it probably never existed. And not only is there an infinite amount of information, it is becoming ever more compact. This aspect of the Internet combined with the portability of the devices like touch screen and full keyboard phones allow us to literally have information at our fingertips. So, we should be becoming smarter, faster, right?
Con: Desensitization. The Vietnam War is known as the first televised war. When Americans saw what was actually happening in a war zone, there was uproar. There were protests and revolts. Having that bit of information was enough to have, at least among the youth, a good reason to question what their government was getting them involved in. The draft amplified this. But today, with all the mass information we have, we still don‘t feel the need to take a look at everything that‘s happening outside the U.S. and question how we Americans, arguably the most powerful people in the world, have contributed to its demise.
We have all seen images of dead Palestinian children, while we fund Israel; Iraqi civilians being pulled out of rubble, while we spend billions at war there; African people starving to death every day, while Americans become incredibly obese.
We can all easily read about the inequalities in the world: unnecessary wars, breaches of privacy, neglect of poverty-stricken areas of the nation (see: New Orleans). And yet, we become increasingly submissive and compliant to a government that originally encouraged free speech freedom of liberties. So what are we doing if not using the Internet to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world?
Pro: Networking websites that connect us to the people that we love and care for. Family overseas, long distance lovers, good friends from high school are all trapped in this virtual world that we‘ve created for ourselves. If you make a new party-BFF at the frat house you were at last night, you can forever cherish the moments you two sang “I Like Big Butts“ together in a drunken slur of incoherent hiccups. We can continue to have close bonds with people that matter when distance is an issue. There is video chat, Skype, e-mail and so rather than having to wait for two weeks to get a letter back from your pen pal, you can instant message.
As an aside: It‘s funny how we went from an instant message fad to a MySpace/Facebook (public messages that we can chose to respond to when we feel so) fad. Too instant of messages require some sort of commitment to a particular person at a particular time, and isn‘t it the point of a virtual reality to avoid the original instant message (face-to-face conversation) altogether?
Con: Filler shit that is inherently addictive. Every time that little red bubble pops up in the bottom right-hand corner of our Facebooks, it‘s like Christmas morning all over again. Who said what about which one of my strategically placed photos/notes/links and what does that tell me about myself? These websites become so absorbing that a relationship is almost not deemed valid until the couple proclaims their committed intercourse through Facebook. And with the more recent Twitter, instead of communicating with people the important events that occur in our lives and in the world, we are updated instantly (don‘t worry it‘s only one-way) with our random acquaintances‘ daily routines. And for some reason, we give a shit. It‘s as if our evolutionary curiosity and inclination to understand the world is being channeled toward stalking people online.
I have almost 600 Facebook friends: Who are you people?
Consider this your warning, people: SARA KOHGADAI is a Facebook stalker. Avoid her friend requests from email@example.com.