This is the era of the information age. Currently there are over two billion internet users in the world. The internet is the fastest growing market place and many companies are increasingly adopting internet related technologies to tap to the growing market. The internet also has been the source of multi billion companies like Google and facebook that solely derive their revenues from the net.
These companies and many more have products that have made sure millions of people are hooked to the internet for work and leisure. Because it’s a virtual place that is not very limited, the internet has been on the receiving end of both criticism and praises.
It’s a fact that the internet is an employer to millions of people who work and do business online. However, its also a known fact the internet is a place for many people to waste time and many companies have tangibly proved that productivity falls when employees engage in internet related activities (Marzilli 34).
Similarly, the internet is the source of many online relationships that people form with virtual partners that normally lead to the breakage of their marriages or stable relationships. The negatives that have characterized the net have therefore led some critics like William Gibson to declare that the internet is a just a waste of time. It’s not any better than the entertainment technologies that preceded it. In fact he thinks its worse. This paper will therefore seek to determine if the net is a waste of time and if so, in what ways.
Did you know that Facebook has over 700 million users today? Did you know that many other social networking sites like Twitter and My space account for hundreds of millions of other online users? Did you also know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world that helps users access virtually everything that one would want to research on? According to Nielsen Online, facebook, twitter, and Myspace combined captured over hundred million users in 2009.
According to Nielsen therefore the gap between human beings virtual and physical continues to dim. It’s important however to understand that the problem is not sing the internet. Rather the problem is the activity these billions of users of the internet engage in. in a survey in 2005 by America Online and Salary.com, many workers over 44% cited the internet as the biggest distraction (Mahill 32).
The internet was fist invented to connect people. Today, it still plays that very important role. In fact, there is quite a lot of useful collaboration that is as a direct result of the internet. Take for example research (Johnson et al 54). Many research fellows in the world interact between each other stationed in different universities thousands of miles away exchanging ideas that have positively changed the world.
The internet is also increasingly being used as a place to discuss parties and other social events that bring many people together. Everyday the news media is filled with news of unsuspecting women and men some of them underage lured by criminals and trafficked to various parts of the world through the internet (Herbert and Samantha 59).
It’s hard for one to imagine his son /daughter being sent away from school because they posted inappropriate pictures online. Many politicians have lost their careers through the information thy post on the net. What we can decide from the above is that the internet is a great source of unlimited invaluable information and at the same time a place with unlimited ways of wasting time.
Many experts have asked themselves many questions about the good and bad sides of the internet. Much as they acknowledge its importance, it’s hard to remain objective and concentrate on the good side without casting the eye wide and seeing the ugly side of it (Katz and Rice, 45).
The internet was invented to connect with people, true. The internet is still crucial in everyday running of the world, true. On the other hand, the internet is the root of some of the bad evils that have befallen many people, true and the internet is the beginning of what Gibson described as a place to daydream waste time and watching other people’s lives while we destroy ours. According to Gibson, the bad side of the internet outweighs the good.
Putting oneself in Gibson’s shoes, one can’t help but ask some very hard questions about the net. What good is there for one to spend half of his/time discussing about the lives of other people? What good comes out of sitting the whole day, consuming vast amounts of energy and fantasizing about other people’s lives?
Alternatively, what good comes out of someone sitting the whole day creating malicious programs that lead to the collapse of vast networks of data and sometimes con of money out of people. It makes no sense at all for one to stay online and take surveys that pay a hundredth of a dollar. Millions of people are engaged in such activities that promise huge unrealistic incomes.
According to Gibson, uselessness stems from the fact people spend a lot of time online doing nothing productive on the internet. As a result the internet has introduced a culture of people who only think about leisure without working. While that can work ideally, it’s quite unworkable in the realistic world.
Even if the idea that money can work for one hence he/she can have all the time to engage in leisure was workable, it will still be impossible for one to engage in endless leisure. Gibson therefore feels that the advantages and disadvantages from the internet cancel out each other and result the nothing comes out of it. He further fears that failure to halt the trend will lead to people especially young people acting life and living in fantasy
The scary part is that the internet is yet to fully evolve to reach its epitome. The evolution no doubt will bring along numerous advantages and along with it deadly consequences for all users of the internet. What needs to answered however is whether the leisure trend that is associated with the world is on its way to usurping the productive trends that laid the foundation for the internet (John 76).
Many experts have expressed their own views that support Gibson’s view while others appear to be on the contrary. Ott and Sarricks believe most of the information stored in the internet can be justified to be useless.
The sad thing about it is that the information is packaged to appear important potentially misleading many people who otherwise should be engaged in productive activity (166). Gibson in his argument about the uselessness of the internet admits that though he likes surfing the internet and derives considerable pleasure from doing so, he cannot compare it to the television.
Television according to him is far more beneficial and apparently does not waste time like the internet, well during the “good old times”. Its difficult to determine the accuracy of the Gibson’s charge. However, anyone can find a number of faults with the TV as with the internet. Like surfing the internet, clicking on ones TV remote control will introduce to numerous unnecessary programs comparable to the useless information on the internet.
West admits that the internet has revolutionalized the way information is accessed (74). Information according to him that took weeks to compile may take a few hours. Now who can object to that as an great time saver? West adds that the wealth of information available in soft form online far outweighs the information that is available in soft copy (74). However, West faults the vast amounts of information on the internet as its main undoing.
Like Otts and Saricks he concurs that most of it is useless. Further more it will take someone a long time to sift through the information to com up with anything logical and concrete ( 25). The quality of the information has been called to question. Its no secret that most qualitative and useful intelligence information is sold online. So why avail it and claim at the same time that its available on the information superhighway.
According to Mahill, social interaction is very important it every human being’s life (130). Human beings have different interests and those that have less rely on the media for a bridge of the gap that5 the have. The internet has come in handy and kept people engaged instead of being bored.
That is pretty much like Gibson’s view. However, Mahill faults television, social media, e-mail, texting and texting all that have an internet element in them for providing too much entertainment to appoint where the individual is overwhelmed. He adds that people are finding it increasingly difficult to process the information and entertainment that the internet accords the (130). Mahill authoritatively declares that people are overloaded and the usefulness of the internet is drastically being put under the microscope.
He coinage “the internet is useless” is too blanket to sum up the benefits that the internet offers as well as the disadvantages. Depending on the angle from which it’s looked at, there are going to be a lot of pros and cons concerning the service. However, focusing on the disadvantages, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that the internet thing is quickly turning to an “overact”. There is a lot of entertainment on the net.
In fact, one can easily prove that there is over entrainment that exceeds supply on the internet. But, who said some people don’t like it? Are social sites minting money out of the net? Can from instance Larry Page of Google describe the internet as useless? The simple answer is no! Therefore, the solution lies in a little bit of policing of the net where stringent regulation will control what flows in and out of the net. Without that, am afraid Gibson’s generalization will become true.
John, Hamilton. Internet. London: ABDO, 2004. Print.
Mahill, Wendy. Embracing a Feeling Heart. London: Xulon Press. 2011
Marzilli, Alan. Policing the Internet: New York: Infobase Publishers, 2005. Print.
Samantha, Moppett and Herbert, Ramy. Navigating the Internet: legal research on the World Wide Web. New Jersey: WIN Press, 2000.
Johnson et al. Computers: tools for an information age. New York: Prentice Hall, 2002. Print.
Rice, Ronald and Katz, Everett. Social consequences of Internet use: access, involvement. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2002.
Saricks, Gibson and Ott, Bernard. The Back Page. New York: ALA Editions, 2005. Print
West, Christopher. Competitive intelligence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2001. Print.