There’s no doubt that the ‘noughties’ have been the Decade of the Internet. Although the internet has been around for many years, it wasn’t readily available until the last few years. Statistics show that almost two billion people on Earth use the internet. It’s the best way to connect to people and gain information.
Or is it?
The internet is often called the information superhighway, because of the amount of knowledge available at your fingertips. Not all of this information is reliable, but opinions are out there should you wish to subscribe to it. This is the first reason the internet isn’t what it seems. A quick search using any search engine will show you a number of opinions on any topic. Everything from alien conspiracies to the flat Earth society will clog your brain with “facts” and poorly researched material. There are sites dedicated to every cause you can think of (and many you can’t). Some of this material is valuable, most of it isn’t. The more you delve into a certain topic, the more you’ll become confused. Here’s a handy tip: never type your symptoms into Google. You’ll think you’re dying!
Cyber-stalking is a growing problem, particularly amongst children and teenagers. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook allow people to ‘connect’. These sites try to keep on top of privacy but don’t seem to be winning in the cyber-bullying stakes. It’s far too easy to track someone on the internet and bully them. A Google search of my own name shows my Facebook page, some articles I’ve written for EzineArticles.com and that I won some tickets a couple of years ago. This is my “Google footprint” and it’s easy for enemies to find me (luckily, I don’t have many…) What information are your teenagers putting out there? Think of it this way: would you stand in the middle of a football field and shout out that you’re going on holidays for two weeks? Think of the danger you’d put yourself and your home into. What you put onto the internet is very, very public.
However, the things that make the internet nasty are also the things that make it good. Information about health is abundant, for example. Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with a little-known disease, something you’ve never heard of. The internet will show you’re not the only one with it, and there may be other sufferers in your community that you can chat with and support. It’s easy to keep up with news on the go, find out the latest sport scores, or see what your favourite celebrity is doing. Want to find an obscure song from 1963? It’s on the internet somewhere.
Your “Google footprint” is extremely handy for marketing purposes. If you have any type of business, you need to have an internet presence. Your business may be offline (such as car servicing), but without a website, you’ll lose business. If your business is online, get your name out there. Use the internet for all it’s advantages. Internet marketing is huge business, generating millions of dollars of income for anyone willing to get on the bandwagon.
People have found lost loves, forgotten friends and traced their families through time using the internet. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It can make you money in a heartbeat or lose you everything. It’s a game, it’s time to learn the rules.