Essay, Research Paper
What a Wonderful World We Live In
By technological standards, the Internet is still ?new?; it has been a mere 30 years since it was first introduced in the form of a primitive network of four computers called ARPANET (1969). It wasn?t until 1982, with the creation of USENET, that the Internet (still not referred to as such) became even remotely known to the then elite computer-literate public, seven years more before the first commercial dial-up Internet access provider was introduced (1989), and three more before Internet communication was made easily available to private users (1992). Since 1992, with its excruciatingly slow and unreliable 900 baud-rate modems, the Internet has quickly made the inevitable jump from being a luxury item reserved for those who could afford it to finally becoming an affordable necessity to everyday life, all within eight years of becoming publicly available. The benefits of this ?new? technology are awe-inspiring in their number, but affect the private user mostly in the ways that it has changed our methods of communication.
Arguably, Internet communication (including BBS, e-mail, and chat services) has been most beneficial to mankind by making it so much easier to communicate with friends and family. Imagine having to physically phone someone up, or, God forbid, go to his or her house in order to speak with him or her face-to-face about something so mundane as the next week?s assignment or the birth of a child. This would require not only considerable strenuous effort in regard to dialing the phone or driving a vehicle, but would also require the uncomfortable and exhausting task of actually speaking. God knows we do enough of that when ordering our daily cup of coffee, espresso, or mocha latte. Now, thanks to the Internet, everyone we know (or at least want to know) is ?connected,? and, therefore, quite literally at our fingertips. If someone doesn?t happen to be online, we can always leave e-mail or wait for a few minutes. Someone to talk to will undoubtedly be on shortly, even if it is not that particular person we wanted to talk to. After all, we can?t see them anyway, so who cares?
On the other hand, Internet communication also supplies a very convenient method for avoiding people we don?t want to converse with. Now, when someone asks that irritating question ?why didn?t you pick up the phone??, we can answer with ?hey, I was online,? followed shortly with ?why didn?t you e-mail me?? Even better, most Internet providers offer the ability to have several online screen names, each with the potential for dozens of new, totally anonymous, chat mates. Our ?physical? friends can easily be replaced with lower maintenance ?cyber? friends who we will never have to speak to face-to-face or be in physical contact with. Cyber relationships are so much more convenient to maintain than physical relationships, and, more importantly, so much easier to cut off completely when the need arises.
And what about sex? Thankfully, Internet communication has provided a method for avoiding all of the uncomfortable, embarrassing moments and expensive gifts associated with dating, not to mention all of those painful emotions and the risk of contracting a nasty virus. To think that only ten years ago people actually had to touch each other to have sex ? disgusting! Now we can have cyber sex with any number of people at any time of the day or night with no risk of emotional attachment or sexually transmitted disease. In fact, there are currently over four million known cases of AIDS in the world today, and not even one was the result of cyber sex. Even better is the absolute anonymity of it all. We no longer have to worry whether or not our partner for the evening (or afternoon) is even remotely good looking, or even of the opposite sex. They are, in the words of Heidi Fleiss, ?whatever we want them to be.? Just contemplate the sexual inhibitions and annoying moral constraints that Internet communication has eliminated!
These are, of course, only a few of the many ways the Internet has benefited mankind. There are also untold benefits, like being able to avoid doing ?real research? in unhealthy places like libraries, and actually having to read a book to find out what it is about. But these things are trivial in comparison to the advancements in communication afforded by the Internet. Without it, our interpersonal relationships would be as tedious and physically exhausting as they were a scant decade ago. In time, the Internet may completely eliminate the need for us to ever open our mouths for any reason but to eat, to ever touch another person except in the direst of circumstances, or to ever leave the safety of our houses. It is truly a wonderful, wonderful world that we live in.