In his theory of natural selection, Charles Darwin asserted that only the fittest of the fit can survive and flourish in this world, and rightly so. Humans are the most dominant creatures on the planet, surpassing all others. While other creatures might be larger, more durable and more powerful, humans have 2 unique characteristics that place us as the apex predator. Our versatility and intellect. Ever since the inception of the human race itself, we have always found ways to innovate such that we adapt and advance ourselves as a civilization, be it through the creation of stone tools and weapons, a compass, aeroplanes or even vaccines and rockets. These gradual, but effective advancements in our technology have enabled us to become so advanced and prevailing.
In this respect, the internet is arguably one of the most significant and versatile of all human contraptions.
The Internet has taken the world by storm. It has connected everyone in an unprecedented manner. Using the internet, a person in Papua New Guinea can instantly obtain details of a cyclone occurring in India. One can watch a cricket game taking place 12000 km away! The possibilities are endless! Now, what exactly is the internet? For many people, the accurate meaning of the internet is still extremely hazy. In short, the internet is a wide network that allows computers and other devices to connect via online networks. These networks are run by various private companies, governments, schools and more. A common misconception is that the internet is completely virtual, and has no physical presence. In reality, the existence of the internet is made possible by massive cables, some of which even run under the oceans, data centers, routers, satellites and much more! The entire internet depends on a very important feature. The World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is a platform which enables us to only view information but to receive and transmit it, be it through text, video, audio, or one of the dozens of other communication methods. Without out, none of us would be able to watch our favourite shows on Netflix, or order food from Pizza Hut.
Now onto why it is arguably the most important invention of the modern world.
First and foremost, communication.
Using the internet, not only can we initiate real-time communication with people all around the world through various calling software, but we can also message them and email them, for both personal and professional matters, in just a click of a button. In these trying times of Covid-19, where lockdowns have become predominant in countries all around the world, the Internet’s role in providing effective and convenient communication has never been greater.
The internet is like a vast bank of knowledge. Unlike any other bank, it has a practically unending supply of information and knowledge. The development of MOOCs(Massive Open Online Courses) and various other educational resources has enabled students and adults alike to gain a vast knowledge of a variety of topics, which would not be possible otherwise.
Normal life can be stressful, and every single human requires a break in some way, shape or form. Being entertained b is a wonderful way to rejuvenate, and the internet is extremely helpful in doing so. Be it watching cooking videos on youtube, or watching a documentary about bees, one can never run out of entertainment options when given access to the internet.
From the perspective of the economy, the creation of the internet has created employment opportunities in various fields such as graphic design, marketing, software development, and even e-sports! As of the last decade or so, the popularity of e-sports has skyrocketed, giving a career prospect to those that have a passion for video games. The internet sector in the US alone has created more than 6 million jobs and has generated over 2 trillion dollars in 2018 alone!
The late Stephen Hawking, one of the most accomplished physicists, once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist!” This applies to the internet too.
While it may give us access to a lot of helpful information, it also exposes both minors and adults to the harms of violent and gory content, cyberbullying, and cybercrime. In unrestricted cases, people often become addicted to social media and the internet. Their social skills and overall development suffers. While one might say, why can’t we just regulate content and internet usage?
This is extremely difficult to do so. Who would decide what content is approved? Whom do we entrust with that authority, and on what basis do they decide the appropriateness of a type of content?
Once an individual, company, government or group is given the authority to censor content on the internet, the proverbial floodgates open. Many will utilize this to their advantage, be it economic, political or socio-religious.
This is precisely why the dilemma behind entrusting someone to censor the internet comes into the picture.
Although the internet has cons, its pros surely outweigh them. With restricted usage and safe utilization, we can ensure that we take the best that the internet has to offer.
Throughout the existence of humanity, there have been many inventions, each a crucial tool in its era. The Internet, even with its flaws, is the most important invention in the modern world.
By Yohann Andrew D’Souza, Dubai, UAE