In the beginning, there was the Internet. At least, that’s what most millennials believe. It’s hard for most people alive today to think about life before going online. It really wasn’t until the mid 90s that the Internet became commercially available. However, in approximately 20 years, everything has been forever changed.
Life offline consisted of outdoor activities, handwritten letters, organic human interaction, and going to the library. Now that we’ve gone virtual, we can’t go back. On average, Americans spend 817 hours a year on Netflix alone. That amounts to more than 6 years during a lifetime.
Although we all use the Internet, very few people truly understand how it works. Simply put, it is a virtual network on which people can share files and data. Most confuse the Internet with the World Wide Web, but they are two very different parts of a complex structure. The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents, while the Internet is the vehicle from which people can access and transport these documents.
Today, 2.5 billion people are online. That’s 36% of the world’s population! Of those 2.5 billion, 70% of them are online every day. So, imagine an extensive subway system that transports 1.75 billion people on a daily basis. That’s more than the entire population of China, the world’s most populated country.
When you think about it, it’s truly incredible how many people are able to interact (with each other and with data) just by going online. This was probably one of the original motivations behind creating a virtual network. Most people are online doing research, while others are banking, shopping, making travel reservations, and looking for jobs.
The most top viewed site is the search engine giant Google. The site has allowed us to ask any question and supplies us with pages upon pages of answers. With this sort of power at our fingertips, humanity can accomplish so much more, at a much quicker rate.
Since the 90s, other forms of technology have sprouted and advanced exponentially. Big brick cellular devices have transformed into smart phones, which can access the web from anywhere at anytime. Cloud computing has become a major buzzword for companies looking to move and store data externally. Online dating has minimized human interaction to a list of preferences. This is the double-edged sword of technology.
With a plethora of information available to us, we have become lazy. Formal education seems less enticing to those who can simply plug in and download information as needed. We are losing our ability to handle social situations offline. All in all, we must remember that with great power comes great responsibility.