The widespread diffusion of the Internet is the greatest thing to have ever happened in our lifetimes. It brought the world to us and viceversa. It opened our room’s window on the world like nobody or nothing had ever done before.
Case in point: if it wasn’t for the Internet I would have probably never enrolled in a Bachelor in Economics, I would have probably never wanted to become an economist and I would have probably never crossed path with what happens to be my greatest passion among the inordinate amount of passions I happen to have glaring inside my chest.
Because, if the Wikipedia entry on the Academy Award winning documentaries didn’t exist, I would have probably never known about the existence of “Inside Job”, the single, best documentary ever shot about the 2007 financial crisis that sparked my interest in anything that has to do with the workings of an economic system.
And if YouTube didn’t exist, I would have probably never watched it. And YouTube (and Internet in a larger sense) has, also, many times, come to rescue when I was desperately looking for another explanation of a given concept that I just couldn’t figure out on my own.
And if Amazon didn’t exist, I would have never been able to read the books I had to read during the last four years in order to study, write papers and, most of all, my dissertation. The greatest intellectual achievement of my lifetime wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the existence of Internet. Or, if it existed, it would have been shorter, messier and shallower.
The internet didn’t just make my academic career much easier and more satisfactory as it also allowed me to delve deeper into my already-existing passions and it opened up new horizons in equal measures.
Self-declared bookworm that I am, the internet provided me with endless suggestions for my readings that I would have probably never come across, especially with regard to foreign literature (which is, incidentally, the only literature I have in my bookshelves). In particular, if it hadn’t been for the fact that “Norwegian Wood” was one of the most highly-rated books on Goodreads, it is quite probably I would have never found myself compulsively flipping through the pages of what was to become my most favourite book ever.
Moreover, without the beloved “IMDB Top 250 movies” list I would have missed out on so many movies that I happen to love. I would have missed out on an endless amount of astounding TV series too. The amount of artists I would have never even heard of (RateYourMusic.com, ITunes Radio and Spotify need to be thoroughly thanked for, instead, making me discover them). Plus, all the people who took time to review albums throughout the years, may those be in a written or video form.
Dozens and dozens of reviews brought me to purchase the perfect camera for me: if I had to rely only on what one finds in the average newsstand as it was the case before Internet, I would have had to pay something like thirty euros for no more than five reviews.
Travelling has become much more straightforward in many fashions. Internet has, for the sake of the argument, allowed people with a basic understanding of how a computer works to avoid travel agencies entirely, as tickets and travel packages of all kind can easily be purchased online even at 2 a.m on Christmas night and innumerate travel guides of all shapes, sizes and lengths can easily be retrieved with a Google search closely resembling “(please insert city/country of choice) travel guide”.
With regard to recent passions of mine I owe to the presence of Internet in my life, Astronomy and Quantum Mechanics comes to mind: it is only couple of documentaries’ by the always venerable BBC on the topic that I stumbled upon on YouTube merit if I am not clinging onto my high-school idea that physics is pie-in-the-sky, boring stuff anymore.
I would like to believe that a proper use of the Internet hasn’t just made me a more interesting person but a better citizen as well.
Being informed about internal and international state of affairs is both easy and free of charge.
News and information are everywhere, they can consulted anytime and in any fashion. Gone are the days when, to have a clue about what was going on outside of the school building, one had to spend a fortune on newspapers or sit in front of the television at a given time in the evening to watch the news. I am firmly convinced that having such an easy access to such an extensive amount of information has allowed me to connect with world affairs not just wider but also deeper. The plurality of sources and opinions has, time and time again, allowed me to have a more complete understanding of the many facets most issues have. Reading every day the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist in an app on my smartphone allows me to fill the seldom time gaps I have throughout any given day in a more productive manner than if I had only my thumbs to twiddle with. Not only that, of course: plenty of interviews by political leaders and not as much as documentaries on the most varied topics can be found online that would otherwise be difficult to watch in real time.
To a certain extent, we humans work a lot like machine learning machines: the larger the amount of data we are fed, the better we can find relationships and connections between things. The more we read and watch sensible material about politics, economics, technology and all other sorts of matters, the better we should be at coming up with an informed position on them that we can, when given the chance, express with an informed vote.
While I have so far emphasised the role of internet as a never-ending source of information for academic and public purposes, it’s just as valid to briefly ponder how internet has brought together people and people and information and people.
Plenty of people I have met over the years I have been able to remain in excellent relationship with only thanks to internet, by e-mail before and through social media then. It is also considerable the amount of people I have met on the internet, often because we were in the same group on Facebook.
Internet has made distances less damning, even though it hasn’t been able to totally bridge the gap.
Although I have written about my very personal experiences with the Internet I am sure that plenty of you readers will be able to recognise their own selves in at least some of them. Internet is, after all, an intergenerational phenomenon essentially ubiquitous on this planet. The probability that these won’t be words resonating with just myself is, then, to my delight, substantial. Without Internet, you would have never read them. Hopefully, it would have been a pity if you hadn’t.