Impact of The Internet On Human Society
Kirjoittanut: Jignaben Patel - tiimistä Kaaos.
Impact of The Internet On Human Society
It has been four decades since the Internet was invented. In those forty years, the Internet has been embraced as a significant part of human existence and societal norms. There are a lot of things that happened before this invention that have either ceased to exist or only exist in a different form in the current era. The invention of the Internet has significantly impacted human interaction in society. Most of the impacts have created room for a more progressive society and human race, but some have still had some adverse outcomes. In this essay, I reflect on how the Internet affects human society based on personal experience and other events occurring in the immediate environment. These impacts are classified as either positive or negative.
When thinking of the Internet, the first thought that comes to mind is how it has made communication and sharing of information more accessible, increasing connectivity in society. Before the Internet age, communication in society was mainly through means such as sending letters via mail or messengers. Communities had a lower interaction in this era because the duration between when the message was sent and when it was delivered would often be extended (González et al., 2014). In the Internet era, however, sending messages is as simple as sharing a simple message on various platforms to reach a mass of people or a private message. This is significant because it has made sure different societies stay connected. As a student, for instance, I can communicate with my peers and share ideas without necessarily being in the same location. Health services can also be offered remotely, where possible, without the location impacting this. The level of connectivity is thus higher.
The Internet allows people to access anything from anywhere in the world, no matter the location. Today, a person can purchase something from a different continent or country and have it delivered to them without needing to meet with the supplier/seller physically. The location does not matter as long as there are e-commerce sites where a given item of interest is on sale. Further, it has changed how people consume things, such as entertainment (González et al., 2014). In the past years, reading books, watching movies and television shows, or listening to music, was made possible by buying physical DVD copies of this. However, with the Internet, now someone in the UK listens to music or watches a movie recorded in the US by simply streaming it online. This allows the artists to sell their products and the consumers to access them in the comfort of their homes. This has the impact of increasing business opportunities and easing access to entertainment services that were primarily limited to those that could get the actual copies.
Society today is more informed than it was decades ago, and this is due to internet use. As a student, I have opportunities to learn many things, either for recreation or personal use online, because I have access to it. However, people in the early to mid-20th century did not have this available. Now people can learn online, access information and even research various aspects. The Internet has become a vessel for a more educated and informed society and has even increased the impact various institutions have on society itself (González et al., 2014). A teacher can teach their students online; a student can take a course while at home and still graduate. Despite the location difference, people are also holding educative forums and meetings online and getting to educate each other. With the Internet, people are more informed and learned, which is how society is better placed to handle arising issues (Sander & Teh, 2019). A good example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic period. The Internet allowed people to learn about the condition, and information provided a key tool for learning how to protect oneself.
The Internet has also enabled social awareness. Social awareness is where people can see the other person’s perspectives and empathise with their circumstances while respecting their diverse backgrounds. For someone to be socially aware, they need to be exposed to the different environments and group settings that can exist. The Internet has provided this aspect, ensuring information on different cultures and backgrounds (Sander & Teh, 2019). This makes one aware of how things happen on the other side. For instance, interacting with people from another country shows how they live, which is different from how we live. This creates awareness of the differences in society without necessarily having to visit that place. The Internet has, in this way, created a more accommodative and accepting society due to exposure to different environments virtually.
Despite the many positives, the Internet has some negative impacts, starting with increased crime rate and insecurity. The connectivity created by the Internet allows people to access many things that would otherwise not be accessible, including weapons, dangerous materials, and other people’s personal information. All these have made it easier for one to commit a crime, be it by violence, robbery, or even fraud (credit cards mainly). It has also made it possible for cybercrimes, one of the biggest and most bothersome types of crime for companies today, to be executed (Quaglio, 2020). Hackers steal company information and use this to commit crimes. Criminals buy weapons online that are untraceable and use them to commit crimes. All this is made possible by the existence of the Internet.
Another negative is societal influence, which refers to ways people try to change themselves or other people to fit a preferred attitude, belief or behaviour. Social media, which is a tool of the Internet, has been embraced as an avenue for expressing oneself. People share different opinions and beliefs, which often may not be morally right. However, such information can reach a large number of people, and over time, such ideas can be adopted by others viewing this. In other scenarios, the beliefs shared may be geared towards creating a movement that drives an agenda which opposes societal values (Quaglio, 2020). Examples of such aspects include discriminatory campaigns, political activism not set on helping the people but driving a specific purpose, and other extremist agendas. In some cases, societal influence can be positive when it’s used to create awareness and educate the masses, but in other scenarios, it can be used to cripple society.
The use of the Internet has also resulted in health issues, mainly mental health issues. The Internet provides a lot of opportunities, among them anonymity. With this, some people find themselves more embedded in their online presence and can end up feeling isolated, addicted to these platforms, or even both. This often leads to loneliness and can create social anxiety and even depression which are serious mental health issues (Quaglio, 2020). Another way this can affect one’s health is by being bullied online. Anonymity gives people a sense of power when they know they can get away with what they say. Bullies hide behind this and can lead those being bullied into depression and low self-esteem issues.
The Internet has revolutionised society and how human beings relate and interact. Since its invention, it has made communication easier, information sharing faster and more convenient, and learning and shopping easy as well. It has also facilitated social awareness because people are more exposed to the diverse cultures and backgrounds that exist. On the other hand, with the Internet, human society faces more insecurity and crime issues, negative social influence and some mental health issues among the people using it in the community. This significantly impacts how people in society associate with one another.
González, F., Vázquez, J., Nielsen, M., Hypponen, M., Morozov, E., Casalegno, F., Selwyn, N., Engelen, L., Dentzel, Z., & Schiller, D. (2014). The impact of the internet on society: a global perspective. In M. Castells (Ed.), Change: 19 Key Essays on How the Internet Is Changing Our Lives (pp. 127-148). https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/articles/the-impact-of-the-internet-on-society-a-global-perspective/
Quaglio, G. (2020). Potentially negative effects of internet use. European Parliamentary Research Service, 40. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2020/641540/EPRS_IDA(2020)641540_EN.pdf
Sander, T., & Teh, P. L. (2019). Is social media changing the awareness of individuals. International conference on new trends in social sciences, 5-7. http://www.dpublication.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/415-N.pdf