We All Love the Internet and Social Media But What’s the Catch?

I love the Internet.

I’ve been online over 20 years (not constantly! there was a lunch break or two) and I don’t want to go back to the “good olde days”.

What’s not to love about being online, chatting and sharing and keeping in the loop.  We like finding out answers to niggling questions instantly and with seemingly little effort.  We enjoy playing games, downloading music, streaming a film.  It’s never been easier to not miss out.

Now I’m going to spoil that mild reverie with a timely reminder that the cybersphere isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.  Like all good things there’s another side and I’m opening that can of worms for just a moment.

Here be dragons
Gastown, Vancouver, Canada

Controversies? Many!

To list a few there is:

– the debate about the Internet’s overall effect on learning and understanding – see Nicholas Carr – “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

– the growing phenomena of “moral disengagement” – people becoming online bullies as they feel safe hiding behind a computer screen (anonymity) – the more distance someone has from the consequences of their actions the easier it is for them not to care

– governments shutting down libraries across the world because everyone can get what they need online – Really!!?

– Wikileaks – who has the right to know what, how much, when….

– Google’s massive Library digitisation project – who should store all this information, who has access, what are the restrictions?

– Copyright issues

and finally,

Privacy issues – is our concept of privacy changing and does it make a difference? Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook doesn’t think privacy matters anymore.  Again – Really!!?

 Shhhhh?  It’s private. Don’t tell!
Longmynd Hotel, Church Stretton, UK

A few points to ponder on.

Not that I’m going to delete my online existence and go off-grid.  But if you’re serious you could permanently delete your account on a number of popular websites.  A tad extreme but always an option.

OK, I’m done now adding a touch of reality to your day.
I’m going to read a book (and then sneak back onto the Internet…….)

2 thoughts on “We All Love the Internet and Social Media But What’s the Catch?

  1. Hi J, long time no see! Lots of relevant issues here which are becoming some of the driving philosophical issues of the 21st century. As we become increasingly engaged with the web it is becoming a primary arbiter of not just knowledge and human contact but of reality itself. Which is not to say that the inter webs can magically produce matter from ether, but that when a human being engages with the web their perception of the world becomes subtly, or grossly depending on the mental state of the person, altered. Their construction of their personal reality changes. Marshall Mcluhan once posited in the television age that the medium is the message. Television is a purely passive medium which has traditionally been received in a social environment (who hasn't discussed last nights TV?) This socialising mediates the message of and through television and allows social groups to develop a reasonably consistent reality which suits everyone. But the internet is a purely personal experience. It is approached individually and experienced as a personally relevant experience (tailored adverts, video on demand, personal emails and messaging services etc.) The information is very authoritative and totally unedited. You can look for information and find something which is utterly compelling and totally false, and depending on the importance of that information to the individual it can completely change their perceived reality. In effect the internet could be said to engender an experience akin to a mild psychosis…I think about this a lot, you can tell, can't you? ;)Phill

  2. Well now I know what keeps you up at night! You mention my favourite man – Marshall McLuhan! The medium truly is the message and we are living in a global village. I just brushed the tip of the iceberg with this post. It's many long and very thoughtful conversations. Things are changing definitely but one thing I know for sure – Mr. Zuckerberg really freaks me out!Thanks for your insightful comments.J

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