Today in the 21st Century, the Internet is ubiquitous. It connects nearly every country (though there are a handful that have severely limited access or poor connectivity), and offers just about anything you can imagine. But, as with everything else in life, there is good and bad about the Internet.
Contrary to his boastings, Al Gore did not invent the Internet. The Internet (once commonly known as the World Wide Web—who even calls it that now?) was invented by a guy named Sir Tim Berners-Lee back in 1989. You can go read the story behind it here. It eventually became of public use around 1993. Twenty-six years later, you are reading this post on a blog, thanks to the Internet.
This is one beneﬁt of the Internet. You can acquire information from a myriad of sources. We can connect with people we know in almost any corner of the world. I have been able to reconnect with people I went to school with thirty years ago via social media. People can do their shopping online. We can watch TV shows, movies, sports, have just about any entertainment you want by way of the Internet. Hell, actually found an emulator to play Dr. Mario online once. I downloaded a couple of video game emulators, and can play various arcade games on my computer (it’s a great throwback to be able to play the arcade Pac-Man whenever I want, and to be able to manipulate the game controls for speed or number of lives, as the original game did). YouTube offers a plethora of videos of nearly every type imaginable. I even uploaded a video there, even though it only has 16 views (in contrast to the most-viewed video, of the song “Despacito”, which, as of the time I’m writing this post, has been viewed 5,988,812,600 times—yeah that’s really close to six billion views).
You can certainly ﬁnd an awesome recipe or tutorial on how to cook, draw, or something-or-other (that’s how I found some of my recipes). I am always looking for a new kind of recipe for cake or cheesecake, or some kind of dinner to whip up. With any luck, you might actually communicate with some celebrity on Twitter or Facebook (I have had interaction with Larry the Cable Guy a couple of times, as well as received a happy birthday from a former actress/author/fellow introvert once).
Communication with the world has been revolutionized, as well. Instantly send messages to another country by e-mail; global phone calls and video chatting through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Skype; as well as numerous other apps.
So many good things are out there. But, along with the good, there is also the bad. For one, because of online shopping, many physical stores are going away. Entire companies, which had been around for years, are disappearing. From Circuit City and Montgomery Ward to, in the last year or so, Toys Я Us and Payless Shoes (though some have returned in an online-only presence). In the meantime, though, the behemoths like Amazon and Walmart continue to thrive.
Social media, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and their likes, bring good, but also have their dark sides. Along with connecting people, they have exacerbated the ills of society, such as depression and anxiety; suicide for some; hatred; racism; and the overall lack of common sense. Many people depend on being spoon-fed the information they receive, rather than investigate and do their own thinking and research. Some scroll Facebook/Instagram, seeing all the positive, happy posts and pictures, but don’t see the bigger picture and the problems those same people experience. Others want to stalk celebrities. Even more still are some disgusting pedophile lowlifes who attempt (and sometimes succeed) in luring and attracting kids and doing unspeakable acts with them. Then there’s the rather stupid YouTube “Challenges”, causing people to eat laundry soap, burn their skin with dry ice and salt, inhale cinnamon, burn their skin by rubbing it with a pencil eraser, go missing for 48 hours, and even leading up to their eventual suicide. Honestly, I’m waiting for someone to invent the “Common Sense Challenge”, though I’m not going to hold my breath for it—I’d probably end up turning blue.
Though the Internet is mostly global, there are a handful of countries where it is either non-existent, or extremely ﬁltered. Those places with severely-limited internet are, by and large, Communist-type countries led by a dictator of some kind. There, if you’re privileged enough to get Internet access, it is clamped-down by government restrictions (à la China), or the quality is just downright terrible.
With everything good and bad about this Internet we use, it ain’t nothing compared to the Deep or Dark Web. Our “safe” little Surface Web is actually only like 1% of the contents of the Internet. The Dark Web is where the scary shit is. Illegal content abounds there—child porn, identity theft (IDs, credit card numbers), contraband (drugs, weapons, illegal technology), hitmen/murder-for-hire, etc. Basically, the dregs of society. Like I said, the scary shit. It’s not even a nice place to visit, from what I hear. And you have to have special browsers to get there. It’d be like a naïve Caucasian walking down the streets of Detroit or Watts at midnight, or an American in countries like Libya, Iraq or Iran: absolutely unadvisable. Just don’t. You might get hacked or end up with a computer virus, or worse, someone discover where you are and go get you. Or, you might get a visit by some guys wearing dark suits and sunglasses, driving black SUVs. Yeah, that would deﬁnitely put a kink in your weekend plans!
It seems that the world of dating has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years. It used to be that dating required some form of interaction: face-to-face conversation, meeting, going to someplace to interact with someone else—in other words, things an introvert dislikes or is uncomfortable with. Today’s dating apps are a form of online shopping for a relationship. Texting has reduced awkward phone calls, but much of this online interaction has made actual conversations seem obsolete. Some adore talking face-to-face with people; others (like me), dread it.
Don’t you just love our modern times? Technology is a blessing and a curse. Technology is like your signiﬁcant other in a relationship (the saying used to be technology is like the opposite sex, but that’s not always the case today): you can’t live with it; you can’t live without it. For good or bad, we’re stuck with it, unless you want to go to one of those handful of places where the Internet either is crappy or extremely ﬁltered.
Oh, and just as a bit of trivia, you can pick up WiFi signals in some of the damndest places, such as Antarctica, the North Pole and Mt. Everest. Though not at the 29000-foot summit, the highest base camp at 17000 feet has WiFi capability. You can even pick up Internet access on the most remote island in the world, Tristan da Cunha, albeit very expensive and extremely slow (we’re talking 33k, dial-up speeds).
So, have your fun playing your online games; go scrolling Facebook or go buy something. Enjoy your digital selves—just don’t get addicted, and remember to unplug and go ofﬂine once in a while. Stay away from the bizarre Dark Web. Be present in life, and whether it be digitally or physically, be safe and be well.