Recently, I had a conversation with one of my close friends. I had sent her a link, and asked her opinion on the subject matter. Her response was, “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ignorant to more than 50% of what the Internet has to offer. I prefer tangible things, and fresh air, and books.” Her response got me thinking, and while I agree with her position, albeit to a very minor extent, I offered up my position in that the Internet is actually a very awesome place, and is very much so tangible.
Something doesn’t necessarily need to trigger a direct response from your senses for it to be tangible. For something to be tangible, it should have a real, lasting effect on the world around us. For instance, look at Google. In their 2013 I/O conference back in May, they spent a portion of their time discussing their Google Maps platform. In short, they said that by giving the tools to countries in which their physical maps were horribly outdated, the users were then able to create real world, real time, and editable maps that were far more accurate than the ones they had. That had a real, tangible, and lasting effect on those people and those countries.
You can watch the Maps portion of Google I/O 2013 here.
My friend further argued that the Internet, due to it’s status as a man-made creation, is not natural, and will lead to our demise as it allows for us to communicate through an instant medium, even though we are thousands of kilometres away. She also stated that we are being pushed farther away from what we once were, in that we no longer actively seek the physical, but rather are far more content in the virtual, as we seek out and build new friendships via Facebook and Twitter. She summed her argument up by saying that, “we forget that absence makes the heart grow fonder due to this instant world that we live in. That we’re so caught up in our phones, social media, and our laptop,s that we forget to stay and take a moment to process the information we are in taking in order to create an educated opinion. It’s addictive. And all emotion and sense of peace and stillness is lost while doing so.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not claiming that the Internet is absolutely perfect. I agree with my friend when she says that it’s a volatile place in a state of constant flux. It’s far from perfect, but so are we. However, using my friends logic, most of what we enjoy in this world is not natural, due to its status as a man-made creation. Books are included in this, as they too allow for the transmission of ideas from one person to another despite them being separated by thousands of kilometres. Where the Internet excels at is the sharing of ideas; it’s an amazing tool for discovering new ideas like none we’ve ever known before. All that the Internet is doing is cutting down on the amount of time it used to take us.
However, this is where I get to the part where I agree with my friend (to an extent). She does have a point in that there is a whole new generation of kids who don’t have the proper tools to actually meet new people outside in the real world (real being used in the sense as outside of the Internet). We are so caught up in following celebrities and sharing our every thought and emotion, that we forget that when we type out “lol”, we are no longer actually going through with the act of emoting.
Think of it this way. How many times have you personally had a panic attack when you’ve forgotten your phone somewhere, only to feel that sense of relief when you realize it’s in your other pocket. We can no longer go through a meal without constantly checking our phones, and there are even tips and tutorials on how to get by and handle without being connected. You can no longer go to a concert without seeing a see a tiny glowing screens and behind them, their owners craning their necks to view the musician through the tiny glowing screen.
The Internet is an awesome place to discover and connect with people along similar lines of interest. It’s a great place to share new ideas, and get feedback, and to educate yourself. That being said, it shouldn’t completely take over your life. Every once in a while, unplug yourself, and take in the world around you simply for what it is, and let your imagination run wild and think about what it could be.
The Internet is awesome, but sometimes it’s also awesome to just disconnect.