The Best and Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Us

The internet is an amazing thing, it has brought humanity a level of connection that it has never known. We can commune in groups online that are larger than the population of most cities. We can instantly communicate with people regardless of distance. The internet has removed the constraints of time and space from communication.

With the rise of the smartphone came the concept of never being offline. We used to say things like ‘brb’(be right back) and set status’s to ‘away’. Now there is no such thing as away unless you are going somewhere that does not have cell reception. People are expected (and expect) to be online all the time. There is no escaping it and short of some solar flare level catastrophe there is no going back.

These are unexplored waters for humanity. We are venturing to a place where traditional communication and discourse breaks down. Society built on centuries of communication styles and methods is facing a change moving faster than it has the ability to cope with.

The internet has already toppled governments (look to the Arab Spring) and started revolutions. The internet might be the cause behind the election of Donald Trump. The internet and the communication it provides is having an impact on the world at a pace we are struggling to cope with.

One of the large problems with it is that it is becoming designed to cater more and more to the user. Google, Facebook and Twitter all encourage people to live in their idea bubbles and make it hard for people to be exposed to ideas or concepts that conflict with their own beliefs.

This has created an interesting phenomena that with the rise of easy and cheap communication people have doubled down on their political, moral and economic stances. People are less open than they were before and less exposed to ideas. This is almost counter-intuitive. Most mass communication serves to unite the masses, not to deepen the divisions amongst them.

Not since the rise of mass literacy has global society and power been so challenged. You now have a world where tech companies can influence elections, the richest people are tech entrepreneurs that hold a massive influence over the lives of those around them. Governments are becoming less and less relevant as we enter this new future. People are walling themselves off from one another more and more and entering deeper and more entrenched groups.

This constant connection is rewiring our brains, I see it in myself almost every day now. We have lost the ability to be bored. There is a device in our pockets that guarantees a constant stream of easy and dumb entertainment and dopamine. It is addictive to reach for that during even a hint of down time.

I’ve also noticed that my memory has been offloaded to the internet and technology. I don’t need to remember specific things any more, I just need to remember how to access the information. I just need to remember how to find stuff, not the stuff itself.

We are in the middle of a rapid and gigantic transformation to our social world and we have no idea it is going on. Just sit and think for a minute about how much the internet and constant connection has crept into your world. There was no single moment where this happened, it was a gradual process for all of us, and it is ongoing.

My generation is the vanguard of this new transformation. We are the generation that did not grow up with smartphones (like generation Z is doing) but rather we are the generation that can remember a time before everyone was online. We are the guinea pigs of this new world and I think we will be the ones who suffer the most from it.

We will see all the negatives but not get to enjoy the inevitable positives that will come out of that chaos. It is going to be tough for us but that’s just how things go I guess.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the internet is a great thing, I just don’t think it is a net positive. I don’t think we know all the downsides that are yet to come. I don’t think we are ready to live with the consequences of what we are facing down.

I don’t know what the real point of this post was, maybe I just wanted to share some things that have been on my mind. That’s the glory of the internet, I can share things any time I want to. But I guess that is also the downside of it.

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