As with any new technology, everyone is always talking about the negative side effects of the internet and saying how it ruins real face to face relationship, fills our minds with filth and damages our eyes and melts our brains. As usual it’s the panic mongers whose voices are most heard in the media and it’s gotten to such a point that people begin to feel guilty when they boot up their computer. The same things were said about rock music when records were at their most popular, and about televisions when they were first invented. The fact of the matter remains however that we still use both music players and televisions and that the internet isn’t going anywhere either. The reason for this is that although all these things do have a few downsides (like anything), they also have a plethora of upsides. The positive effects of internet use far outweigh the negatives, whether you’re a child, a pensioner or a business man and to say otherwise is not only small minded but destructive.
Before we get onto the positive effects of internet use, let’s start with these much touted negative side effects. The naysayers would have us believe that the internet prevents us from interacting on a face to face basis and destroys old fashioned pursuits of writing letters and speaking on the phone; people even meet their spouses online these days! With business and finance now handled online we’re also far too dependent on the internet and would be at a loss should it break down. With the internet in our pocket we’re now never ‘disconnected’ and are at our boss’ beck and call 24 hours a day. Our bank cards are also more susceptible than ever to fraud and theft… And through all this we’re getting addicting and neglecting our real relationships, stuck inside in a more and more hermit like existence. They also say that sitting in front of a computer prevents us from getting outside and basking in fresh air and instead gives us repetitive strain injuries, hunched over spines and square eyes. As though this wasn’t enough, when we are sat inside on the computer we’re mostly looking at filth as that’s what the internet is comprised of – and having so much temptation and porn at our finger tips can only be a bad thing. The temptation isn’t limited to porn though – we’re also surrounded by bad investments and all-to-easy online shops not to mention gambling sites. And it’s not just ourselves we affect online – we also damage industries by downloading free books and music and downloading pirated movies. The internet provides a hiding place for all the perverts and weirdoes to meet online and to talk about completely irresponsible and antisocial subjects in a way that they could never get away with online. Adverts for penis enlargement, Viagra and Bestiality pop up every two minutes and find their way into our inboxes. Never mind the positive effects of internet use; all this is something you’re willing to expose your children to?
The truth of the matter though is that all these things are simply symptoms of our own psyche as a race and if you look at them slightly differently you’ll see that many of these ‘downsides’ actually represent progress and the positive effects of internet use.
Firstly, the accusation that the internet ruins ‘real life’ relationships is a bit of a misnomer and perhaps what people are forgetting here is that those people at the other ends of e-mails and on social networking sites actually are ‘real life’ people too. In the case of sites such as Facebook and others then, you’re actually more in contact with people than you would be otherwise and in fact need never lose contact with anyone ever again. Romantic relationships also benefit from the internet and if you ask any long-distance couple they’ll very easily be able to reel you off some positive effects of internet use as it allows them to talk every night without wracking up a ridiculously long phone bill on Skype or MSN, and how it even allows them to see each other...
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