"I’d like to welcome you to the new age, an age where the world is at the beckon call of your fingertips."
Welcome to the internet age. I realize that yes I’m only a few years late writing about this but I was feeling nostalgic one day about how excited I used to get as a kid to go to the music store whenever an album from a band I liked came out, and how because of the internet I’ll probably never get to re-live that sort of excitement (also due in part to the fact that new music is horrible… Lady Gaga or Katy Perry anyone?). It then got me thinking about how other aspects of my life and everybody else’s has changed because of it and well, that’s my excuse for writing about it now. This isn’t going to be so much of an ‘one side or another’ piece like my monogamy and marriage blogs, but just more of an observation of this new internet age we live in.
I remember having a conversation with some friends a while back saying that because of the internet, unless you just want some fresh air there is absolutely no reason to ever leave your house other than to go to work. If you think about it, there are sites out there that can supply you with anything you need or want just as long as you have a credit or debit card. Places like BestBuy.com or CircuitCity.com (I couldn’t believe they still exist either) can be your stop for televisions, computers, and other electronic devices including cameras and portable music players. Amazon.com sells everything from books to jewelry to automotive parts, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would want to buy car parts online, as well as the aforementioned electronic devices. Not only do all three sites as well as numerous others sell recreational items like movies, music CD’s and video/computer games, but with Netflix, iTunes and Stream, you can stream movies straight to your computer or purchase albums and video games and download them right to your computers’ hard drive. Do you need new clothes? Visit Gap.com, Forever21.com or Abercrombie.com, three places you couldn’t pay me money to shop at, or even HotTopic.com for more novelty clothing. You can perform numerous banking tasks and even pay utility bills at your banks’ website. You can even buy groceries or even prescription medication… all over the internet. And now with smartphones and tablet computing growing more and more popular with time, all these options and more are readily available to you wherever you go. By the way if by some miracle of chance you can’t find a site that sells what you’re looking for, there’s always Ebay.com.
It’s not only shopping that has been affected by the introduction of the internet. I remember the good ol’ days when if you liked someone, you would ask for their phone number. Then you would actually talk to one another using your voices to get to become better acquainted, and then after some time passed you would actually go out and get to know each other even more. But since I’m apparently an old fart (at 30 btw), that seems to all be ancient history now. Currently there are over 300 million members on the nine most popular dating sites but there are literally hundreds of these sites on the internet. As of 2010 the online dating industry was worth $4 billion worldwide. Looking for romance isn’t the only thing directly affected by the net, even the way we communicate with one another has now been ‘upgraded.’
We now live during a time where Facebook is dominating the social networking medium with now over 750 million users. This along with texting, which is basically the same concept as email but for phones, is essentially all that is required for staying in touch with people. I just read a story (a true story mind you) about a woman that lived out all the stages of a relationship she had with a guy via text messaging including flirtatious banter to confusion to bitterness at the sight of his name. I’ve even met two girls recently that both want to communicate with me through texting only and I’m sure they won’t be the last. I recently joined Facebook a few months ago and I find it interesting how easily accessible I am to all my friends at any given time and vice-versa. Think about it, through your phone you have the opportunity to communicate with everyone on your friends list whenever you want through messaging in Facebook. When I want to say something to a friend, I sometimes can’t decide whether to text them or send it through Facebook, since they’ll get it and respond through their phone anyway.
There’s no question that the introduction and popularity of the internet has made the tasks of our lives much easier, but what kind of price are we paying for this convenience? Did you know that the actions you make on the internet are being monitored and recorded? Let me introduce you to what’s known as data mining. Data mining is the act of having your personal data researched and stored for literally anyone to purchase. People looking to purchase your data can include anyone from companies trying to decide who to sell their product to, to employers looking to spy on the people they have working for them. The information gathered from individuals includes but is not limited to credit card purchases, income levels, pictures of your front door or even status updates you put on Facebook. There are hundreds of sites out there like Spokeo.com, which has profiles of EVERYONE that uses the internet, detailing all the information I listed above. And while you may want to think having your private information being sold off to random companies is unbelievable or wrong, the scary fact is it’s all completely legal. Data mining is a multi-billion dollar industry. So how exactly is our information being obtained? Everything from the apps we use on our phones to the websites we visit is used to gather data on us.
So let me say it again folks, welcome to the internet age. There is no denying that the internet has completely changed the way we as a society live our lives, and seeing as how I was one of the first people on America Online way back in 1995 I’ll always find it a little intriguing how the internet blew up in popularity throughout the years. At the end of 2000 there were an estimated 360 million people on the internet. As of April 2011 that number has grown to over 2 billion, which is roughly 30% of the worlds’ population. Of course like everything else it has its downside. Because of how fast information is shared, it’s often stated that once something makes its way onto the net it’s there to stay permanently for anyone to witness, which is often the case with embarrassing pictures and videos. The bottom line is this; the internet is here to stay and will only evolve and grow more popular in the future. The question is what exactly will it evolve to, what how much more will it change the world? "1223"
by Andre Harry