20070401 GP: To what extent is the internet a blessing in the modern world?

To what extent is the internet a blessing in the modern world? 

Over the past few years, the rise of the Internet has been evident, as can be seen by the popularity of blogging and podcasting, which are services made available by its presence. Increasingly, people are becoming wired up all over the world, and with acessibility to the Internet surges forward at such a phenomenal pace, it is time to question whether the Internet is a blessing in the modern world, and to what extent. I believe that the Internet is a blessing to a large extent, and in this essay, I will be providing analysis and evaluation to support my stand.

Firstly, the Internet provides a route for the efficient dissemination of information worldwide. Fundamentally, the internet is a global network of interconnected computer networks, thus this worldwide connection of all the computers in the world enables the worldwide sharing of information, including services, in the world wide web. As can be seen, once logged on to one’s computer, one gains access to virtually every bit of information in others’ computers. This creation of a virtual global meeting place, which is not confined by the limits of space and location, thus allows everyone from all corners of the world, to be informed of the latest global news at any time. Compared with the more conventional forms of communication such as the telephone and post, the Internet manages to overcome the obstacle of time because in the virtual world, information uploaded by an individual can be viewed simultaneously and instantaneously by all. For example, during the Sars outbreak period in 2003 in China, many stayed at home and the Internet became their tool of communication to keep updated on the latest developments of the situation. As such, we can see that this ultra-connectivity provided the Internet has aided greatly in the efficient dissemination of information worldwide, especially crucial in the alerting and informing of the world during potential pandemic outbreaks.

Secondly, also because of the global connectivity provided, the Internet has helped to broaden the social circle of the individual. With the condensation of individual computer networks into one global network, this has cast everyone into a commonplace of interaction and communication such as forums, where it is free for all to exchange opinions on current issues, and thus in the process befriend one another. Through the Internet, chatrooms such as MSN and Yahoo! Messenger could have been set up for individuals to have the opportunity to make friends in virtual reality. Also, the same exposure to all websites for every individual has been very effective in helping one to discover another who shares the same interests and hobbies, thus initiating the start of a friendship. Hence, we can see that the Internet forms a large virtual community where one can, through interaction, take part in socialisation more freely.

Subsequently, the Internet can be a blessing too by providing convenience in everyday life. Once again, with the creation of a single global community in virtual world, everything, from housekeeping services to piano classes, is simply a click or a hyperlink away. This compression of all activities under the sun into one webpage serves greatly in saving time since one can easily contact his desired services via Email, a service made available with the Internet. Basically, we can find whatever we need at just one place. This not only saves time, but also saves space as we no longer need to buy Directories and the like. Rather, all information can be found in the Internet, where we need simply just to tap on the data provided by other networks. This information-sharing greatly speeds up operations, as also can be seen in the setting up of E-shops, where delivery services are provided such that we need only to click on what we want and it will be delivered to our doorsteps the next day. An example is Amazon.com where books from overseas can be purchased locally and be delivered to the customer too. Thus, the Internet indeeds makes life easier as we can locate anything we need in it, without even having to travel.

As can be seen from the above, the Internet has introduced major improvements to the modern world, from global actions to the individual daily life. However, also because of the convenience and simplification of activities,  the Internet has undeniably been a curse in this modern world too.

With the Internet, crimes can be committed much more easily without the perpetrator being caught. This is because of the visual anonymity provided by the Internet. Individuals are free to roam about the World Wide Web without leaving any traces since the virtual world is very much intangible. This creates a false sense of security that whatever they do can not be traced back to them.  One such example is the recent ‘mooching’ cases, whereby one latches illegally onto a nearby unsecured wireless network and surfs the Internet for free. The individual believes he is safe as there is no hard proof of his actions. In other words, the visual anonymity also erodes social etiquette. If one views comments on a blog which he feels is offensive, because of his anonymity, he has no qualms about letting loose his true feelings and criticising harshly in the form of comments. This has led to the current trend of  online ‘flaming’, which also may take the form of insulting someone else on one’s own blog. Another recent case is of a Chinese blogger who has been puinished for posting racist comments on his blog. All in all, the Internet disposes of one’s own social inhibitions to do whatever they like, which in this case may be commiting crimes and also inciting tensions with insensitive remarks and actions.

Furthermore, another curse of the Internet is the surge in dissemination of pornographic and other morally incorrect contents. Just as it is in human nature to sin, people manipulate the overwhelming power of the Internet to poison the minds of innocent children and vulnerable teenagers. At a more serious level, terrorist organisations make use of the Internet to spread extremism and recruit devout Muslims for jihad by creating websites with false doctrines. Thus, we can see that the Internet is also a tool for indoctrination and manipulation.

However, we can see that the Internet is very much like a double-edged sword, which can be used for both good and bad purposes. However, the benefits and advantages of the Internet far outweigh the threats and dangers which it poses to the modern world. This is because there will always be a minority out there in the world who seek to create unrest and racial tensions in countries, with or without the Internet. They can be countered by effective laws and measures with the cooperation of governments and the concerted effort of the general public to maintain law and order. On the other hand, the benefits provided by the Internet can never be replaced by any other current medium of communication. With the Internet, the world has been effectively linked up, creating many conveniences not known before. Thus, it is not the Internet which has brought about the above-mentioned curses. Rather, the Internet has merely amplified the fundamental ills of society, and on the other hand, has brought the level of effiency and global productivity to new heights. Hence, the Internet is a blessing in the modern world to a large extent as without it, there will be no improvement in the quality of life, but the dangers like terrorism will still perpetrate daily life. In fact, with the Internet, the power of the individuals can be harnessed to counter the minority troublemakers.

Gloria Cheng (3)



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