The Internet has lots of positive aspects: It is an information resource, you can have instant access to diverse subjects of information, you can meet people (this is also a negative point) but I find that the negative aspects are rarely mentioned. Since you can easily meet people, you can also be easily harassed and stalked and you have next to no recourse (well, you do have a choice to take action but it will cost you an arm or a leg). Anyone can say anything about anyone on the Internet. You can pretend you’re anyone, you can manufacture different identities (positive point if you want to preserve your privacy).
Changing the subject briefly to privacy, I ensure my own privacy by never releasing my address and phone number online. If you look hard enough, you can find my picture(s), my name, age, what I do/where I work (my place of work is not somewhere accessible to the public per se, as there is no business office or storefront), city I live in, hobbies/interests and that’s pretty much it. Any of this information may be repeated over and over in different social networking profiles but there isn’t anything totally identifiable that will trace me to my physical address, so realistically, there’s not much anyone can do with that information. Any stalking is strictly confined to online and there’s no way it can extend into real life.
So getting back to the subject, let’s read on about these negative aspects.
Why is the Internet so addicting? Two reasons: information and freedom. People go online to get information (music, news, stock prices, etc). Logging onto the Internet is like a kid going to a toy store; there is so much to do and explore that once you get in, you never want to leave. People also go online because the Internet offers freedom to do whatever they want, to say whatever they want and to be whoever they want.
This could have a negative effect since people will act in certain ways and say certain things that they otherwise wouldn’t do in real life. Furthermore, because the Internet offers so much freedom, you can find your ideal self much easier, but it’s not the same as your social self. The difference is due to you talking to a computer screen and you talking to a real person. Thus, the experiences we encounter on the Internet are not the same as the ones we encounter in real life.
Even though our overt use of the Internet can cause a conflict between your virtual self and your social self, many still excessively rely on the Internet for their activities. As a result of information and freedom, the Internet has become an unbreakable addiction for individuals and society. Computers are as common as televisions in households; in addition, laptops and Internet-ready cell phones enable the Internet to travel with us.
“By 2000 it was estimated that the number of adults using the Internet exceeded 100 million in the United States alone” (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition). We believe that the Internet experience is the same as real life experience, but it’s not. Although the Internet has many benefits, it also separates us from others while causing many unruly behaviors in the process.