Has the Internet Changed our Lives for Better or Worse?

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Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

The Internet has grown and matured for more than twenty years now, and it cannot be denied that it has affected almost everyone on the planet. The Internet definitely does things to you, and does not leave you the same as you once were. But are these good things, or bad things? Has the Internet changed our lives for the better?

YES

Crystal ball

The Internet is like a crystal ball, but what can we see in it?

The Internet is freely available, universal communication. It is access to all the knowledge and learning of the entire world. It is an instant, free service which provides you with news, media, and knowledge, no matter where you go or what you do. The Internet affects everyone in the same way - it gives them more tools for faster communication, gives them more knowledge for smarter decisions, and gives them more people for a greater social network. These are all good things.

The Internet has all the effects of newspaper, television show, movie, and magazine all in one. A free press is a bastion of democracy, and the Internet is all that and more. It is the best practical embodiment of the ideal of free speech - that any computer, owned by any person, in all of the world has egalitarian access to all other computers based on a universal system of distributed networking. It is the ultimate expression of democracy in action, and must be allowed to bloom and grow as much as possible.  It makes all our lives better by increasing all our freedoms.

Finally, it is a tool for truth.  People used to exist on speculation, hearsay, and rumor, with only a few established facts that they remembered from the news or school that they could rely on.  More educated people might know a few more facts, but less educated people were lost in a sea of opinion.  Now, anyone can search for just a few minutes to find out what is actually going on in Borneo at this moment, and the price of grain in Kentucky as of this morning.  There are more facts, and much less speculation, in everyone's mind these days.  And that is the best effect of all.

NO

Responsible use of the Internet can be a good thing, but the Internet is mostly not used responsibly now. It is a tool for quickly spreading misinformation, fear, lies, and guesswork and passing it off as absolute truth. The average man on the street doesn't have the critical thinking skills necessary to sift all that misinformation from good, quality information. This means he is pulled by the ebbs and tides of lies on the Internet. He should be guided, and the Internet should be controlled, in order to protect society from its abuse.

Additionally, the Internet has become a place where people collect and spread their perversions. The most disgusting things, including illegal and immoral things like child pornography, can now be found on the Internet. This blatant flouting of the laws of most countries must not be tolerated. These criminals must be found and arrested, and their communications must be blacklisted and removed from polite society.

The Internet also spreads unrest.  Just look at China, Iran, Egypt, and Australia, who already have to control the Internet for national security.  Irresponsible communication tools like Facebook and Twitter helped to foment extreme civil unrest in Iran and whipped the people into a frenzy.  In China, the Internet has caused new addictions among young people and spread dissatisfaction with the way things currently are.  If too many people rebel against too many governments at the same time, there could be serious starvation and death.  People need to act responsibly in their objections to government, but the Internet does not promote that.

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