Opinion // The internet: our salvation or our doom?

It’s fantastic what the internet has to offer to us. But is it really?

Our generation and the following, won’t experience the world without technology. I think we should make time to reflect on the internet and how we will deal with it in the future. What will we learn our kids?

We have the chance to always keep in touch with our environment, even though we’re miles away. We don’t have to miss a thing, because our friend the cellphone will keep us informed about what is going on in the world. And what friend A is eating and where friend B is and with who friend C watched the latest film. We’re only one call away from everyone we want. With one click we can order everything we desire. With one search term the internet will tell you everything you want to know. It connects people. We can learn so much on the internet. It’s also due to the internet that the world is so connected. When something happens in America, it doesn’t take long for us to be informed about the occurrence. I think that without the internet we couldn’t imagine this. The internet made our life easier. But what about the disadvantages? What if the internet is slowly controlling and manipulating us? What if we don’t realise that the internet is actually taking our lifes over, and we keep giving them information about ourselves? The internet is great, but it’s not all wine and hoses.

Average phone usage

With the internet, we keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, we can reach everyone and everything every time, everywhere we want. Nevertheless with one notification our attention is gone for at least than ten minutes. We waste so much useful time on our cellphones, time we could use to have real – life conversations, go out and experience the real world, see what happens around us.

I recently downloaded an app, Moment. This is an app that tracks your screen time, how many times you pick up your phone, for how long you use your apps separated. It’s really raising awareness about how much time you spent on your cellphone and how you could use it. The app also compared my average phone use a day and that of the average.

 

 


It says that my average is 2H 51M below the average. I was actually shocked when I saw that the average is 3H 57M, that’s almost 4H a day! I thought that my 1H 6M was a lot. That’s 1460 hours in a year, amounting to 60 entire days! Imagine what you could do with these extra time if you just drop your phone.

What can you do with four hours a day instead of spending it on your phone?

  • You could fly two times back and forth to London from Brussels. 
  • You could cycle back and forth to Antwerp from Brussels.
  • You could watch whole season 10 of Friends
  • You could listen 100 times to Emma by Hot Chocolate
  • You could read the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • You could make this layered cake four times
  • You could listen 35 times to Martin Luther kings speech 
  • You could have a conversation with 68 strangers ( the average duration of a cconversation is 2-3 min)

The internet is one big life-hack

Unfortunately, I think that with the internet many things lost their authenticity. But on the other hand, it made our lifes easier.

Who, in today’s world, will spend hours in the library to find that one thing they couldn’t remember anymore or they didn’t know, if you could just ask Google to do it for you? Who, in today’s world, will go shopping for hours to find that one thing they desire, if they could just sit in their couch and click on everything they want? It even comes to you, you don’t have to leave your couch to go get it. Who in today’s world will have a conversation with strangers on the bus, if we have our safe bubble with our cellphone with familiar people? Who in today’s world will save money for months, to buy that one vinyl album they’ve waited for so long, if they could just could find it for free on the internet with one click ? Who in today’s world will pay for the movie theatre to see the latest film, if you could watch a thousand films for free with only one download? Who will insult people in the face, if you could do it anonymously behind your pc? You must be a fool to don’t do these things, everyone does it. In my opinion, we should make more time to ‘waste time’.

Another thing that bothers me about the internet, is the pressure to always be available. We expect everyone to be available the whole day. Where is the possibility to be unavailable for everyone, to do whatever you want, without everyone knowing where you are and with who you are?

However, the internet also does great things. The internet can be used as a platform to spread love and to encourage people who need it. When I see things like this, it moves me. It can also offer consolation.

Being Young In Europe Today

Eurostat did a large-scale research namely Being Young In Europe Today, about internet use by teenagers and students. From this chart we can derive that almost every European uses the internet everyday. We also see that the usage in the age group 16-29 is significantly higher than the usage of the whole population. I think this could be declared by the older generation who don’t use computers that much, because they were raised without them.

Bestand: mensen die dagelijks een computer of internet hebben gebruikt, EU-28, 2011-2016 (% aandeel) BYIE18.png

There’s always a catch

We can’t ignore the fact that the internet always has a dark side, there’s always a catch.

The internet can offer consolation, to meet fellow-sufferers, talk anonymous about your problems  Nevertheless      When you meet strangers on the internet, you always leave yourself vulnerable. You never know for sure if they are who they want you to believe they are, and you can easily be used. Because whichever way you look at it, human-beings are able to take advantage of gullible people, how hard we want to believe they don’t.

The internet can spread love and encourage people, by sharing awareness-raising and encouraging posts.  Nevertheless     unfortunately, hate spreads too. The internet is used to criticize, insult, ridicule human-beings, in an anonymous way.

The internet offers you everything you desire, with one click you can order whatever you want. This goes from food to trips to toilet paper.      Nevertheless    you can (way too) easily get illegal things, like weapons and other life-threatening things.

The internet adapts to your interests and personal data. Convenient!   But don’t you think it’s terrifying that the internet knows everything about you? Everything that goes on the internet once, will stay there forever. Do you trust the internet enough to give personal information?

I could go on for hours, enumerate many more disadvantages of the internet. But I also think the internet is a really great gift and we get many opportunities we wouldn’t have without the internet. We should be grateful we can benefit from this stunning invention.

 

 

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