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Is the Internet Destructive or Constructive to Society?

Updated November 22, 2021
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Is the Internet Destructive or Constructive to Society? essay

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The Internet is a massive system of networks that connects millions of computers worldwide. It is used through so many ways such as communication, education, research and many more. It is a result of the technological evolution that has reshaped our means of communication and approach to almost every aspect of our lives and it continues to do so. Some believe that while the Internet connects people together, it also disconnects us socially that leaves some of us to feel isolated. However, I believe that it is essentially up to how we make use of it and how we balance our use of the Internet or any byproduct of technology.

And as individuals, we decide how we build our own personal relationships with others outside the Internet world. As the world-renowned novelist Dan Brown reminds us, ‘The human species has never created a technology we have not weaponized.’ We are granted a choice between using these tools for either the good or the bad. As complex beings that we are, we become creative and find vast ways to use products of technology and most particularly, the Internet. After all, when it was invented, the idea was not to create the dark web, produce false information, distract us from socializing or to immobilize the human race with advertisements. It was carefully designed by a number of researchers, computer scientists, programmers, and engineers to simply, or I should say complexly, create worldwide networks of information. It wasn’t until long after it was developed when people built upon the Internet and used it in many different ways.

These tools developed by technology were designed to make life easier that would save us the time and energy from doing day-to-day tasks. Beyond this, we make the decision to direct the time and energy saved to do something constructive. As technology advanced, so did our use of the Internet. We are now able to easily connect with others around the world with just a tap of a finger. I lean towards the positive effects of the Internet and how the advantages of its use outweigh the disadvantages.

Today, having a connection to the online world is almost the only way if not, the default way to communicate. Sure, we can mail letters, make a phone call, tie a note around a pigeon’s leg and send it off or schedule a lunch date, but why make so much effort when you can simply grab your cellphone or computer and send away? This statement alone, sparks controversy. Behind this rhetorical question come the pros and cons to the ever-so-evolving technology of communication.

One side is based on the outstanding convenience of technology but there’s another tone behind it that questions our sense of physical connection to others and our ability to express ourselves through face-to-face interactions. From Sherry Turkle’s essay No Need to Call, after observing a couple of teenage girls, She states ‘These young women prefer to deal with strong feelings from the safe haven of the Net. It gives them an alternative to processing emotions in real time.’ She expressed her distrust in technology as it influenced us to become robotic. In her opinion, people are unable to tap into our emotional senses or interact like the social beings that we are. In addition, Nicolas Carr made a point in his essay Is Google Making Us Stupid?, ‘As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence’. As researchers have studied, The way the internet changes our brains is not necessarily a loss.

One of them would be Jeff Hancock, founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab and a Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University. He argues that technology and the Internet do not lead us to a less intelligent generation. As technology evolves, so do our brains. They adapt to our environment in order to be fluent in different disciplines which would be very crucial as technology revolution advances because eventually, it will change what intelligence is valued. I agree that the Internet could sometimes be a distraction, that it’s some kind of hindrance to our ability to connect with people on an emotional level outside the noise of it all. However, I don’t necessarily agree that this is the case for everyone because people use the Internet for different purposes in different durations at varying levels. We should be able to manipulate how often we use the internet or what type of content we access and direct our attention to other things.

As far as it’s effect on our ability to communicate effectively, our level of emotional intelligence, and our personal relationships, I feel that we should hold ourselves accountable for how we let the Internet influence these aspects of our lives. People have different perspectives, priorities, coping mechanisms, and how we balance the use of the Internet and how we let it influence our lives in either a negative or positive way is literally in our hands. Although the negative impacts of the Internet on a social level for a lot of us should be of fundamental importance, we should also address the reciprocal value to the stance that we hide behind the screen that made us shy away from face-to-face interactions. On the contrary, Kenneth Goldsmith states in his essay, Go Ahead: Waste Time on the Internet, ‘And I keep reading—on the Internet—that the Internet has made us antisocial, that we’ve lost the ability to have a conversation. But when I see people communicating with one another: texting, chatting, IM’ing. And I have to wonder, in what way is this not social? A conversation broken up into short bursts and quick emoticons is still a conversation.

Watch someone’s face while they’re in the midst of rapid-fire text message exchange: it’s full of emotion—anticipation, laughter, affect.’. To him, communication through technology still evokes the same emotions that we experience in real life. He also talked about how a young girl who was always on her phone was not wasting her time on the Internet at all, but instead, otherwise. She was connecting with a community of girls who shared the same interests that indulged her ideas and cultivated her creativity. This reflects how some of us utilize the Internet. We find a forum, reach out to communities who share the same interest, build on each other’s ideas, or just enjoy one another’s content.

It ultimately depends on how we utilize it, and how we build and maintain our relationships with others with or without the use of technology. In stating so, we are not entirely losing ourselves in what some may perceive, a pointless stream of nonsense called the Internet. It’s as if we’re being productive, but online. In a way, we are feeding our ideas and fueling our creativity. In contrast with the criticisms to the Internet, It has evidently enhanced our communication system and information access immensely. While some would argue that the internet is a monolith that divides society, I would argue that it builds relationships not just within our personal lives, but it has also linked us to the rest of the world. However, there are repercussions to the ugly side of the Internet.

Aside from the disadvantages of the massive mixture of accurate and false information, among other ill-intended activities executed in the Net, people have definitely used it to express negativity and harm others. One popular topic would be cyber-bullying, which is sending messages in an intimidating or threatening nature with the use of electronic communication instigated by ‘trolls’, which are individuals who provoke online feuds by throwing negative and derogatory comments towards others.

According to Dr. Bobbi Viegas Miller, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, IL, rude and anti-social behavior increase as social media platforms rise as these bullies are often anonymous and inhibited by consequences. And according to DoSomething.org, a movement devoted to young people and social change, ‘ 81 percent of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.’ According to author Danny Wallace, social media has made society ill-mannered. People often feel the need to share their opinions usually in a rude manner to ‘cut through the noise’ and the reason being was anonymity. The lack of eye-to-eye contact made it easier for people to be unpleasant to others due to the absence of social consequences that they would have to face if it were in person.

Unpleasant as it may seem, I would argue that the Internet or technology, in general, is not the root of the cause in such behavior and patterns in society. Actions as such would say more about the individual and one’s inner turmoil than the technology itself. Along the same lines of virtual bullying and social injustice, the rise of such issues invokes the merging of different communities and organizations creating platforms through the Internet to bring forth social awareness and suppress such crises. These are only among the many causes and movements inspired through the Internet platforms. And as for virtual bullying, the Internet won’t be much to blame for such antagonism.

Bullying and oppression have existed as long as humans have long before the Internet was invented. Real people are behind these screens, not robots or artificial intelligence. It is us, our neighbors, peers, and children. Therefore, it is our responsibility to enlighten ourselves and educate others on how to use the Internet or any technology in general, effectively. Using the Internet, we have come up with platforms such as online blogs, and social media to express ourselves that not so many people were able to do ages ago. In the past, only Scholars, politicians, world leaders, journalists, and writers got to express themselves and their ideas to communities all over the world through the press, books, or the newspaper.

Today, information gets around much quicker and is dispersed to a much larger group of people all around the world. Back then, only the concerned citizens who cared to open the newspaper or turn on the news were aware of what was happening in every aspect of society, be it about the economic, global crisis, the environment, or politics. Today, it would be difficult to contain information within a small demographic because almost half of the world’s population have access to the Internet. As a result, we use it not just as a tool, but also as our voice that satisfies our need to be understood and be heard. Outside of our personal circle of friends and family, The Internet connects us to a world much bigger than of our own.

In addition to being able to express one’s self and in being able to do so, social awareness has increased across the world with the help of the Internet. People of different communities inspire and influence each other to take on social responsibility and spread awareness. In Juhi Pathak’s article Popular Culture: A Cliché or Empowering the Masses? She emphasized how social media has played an important role in strengthening society by educating users around the world. ‘These digital technologies influence the formation and activities of civil society groups: mobs, movements, and civil society organizations. While mass popular protests or raising of demands are by no means a new phenomenon, digital tools are facilitating their formation.’ Ultimately, the Internet is just a tool. From deciding whether or not to use it, to our decision in letting it take over our lives. The Internet would only hinder us as much as we let it.

Just like how we make choices every day, from waking up at a certain time, deciding what to wear, what to eat, and who to talk to. We are equipped with all kinds of tools to make our lives easier and we, as individuals, have the choice on how to use it. We are very much able to manipulate how it impacts our daily lives, and how we communicate with those around us. It takes a great deal of discipline and balance, but it is attainable. If used right, the Internet could enhance our ability to communicate, engage in conversations, think critically, and broaden our perspectives.

Is the Internet Destructive or Constructive to Society? essay

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Is the Internet Destructive or Constructive to Society?. (2021, Nov 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/is-the-internet-destructive-or-constructive-to-society/

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