Not too long ago, an idea was developed that would allow endless streams of information to be shared nearly instantaneously. Snail mail would give way to email. Loaning out music tapes and CDs would give way to music file sharing, etc. This idea was called the Worldwide Web and it would effectively link everyone on Earth. The idea made the world a much smaller place, because now a person could find themselves speaking to others in foreign countries and even making friends with their favorite celebrities.
The Web would also be known for doing deeper research because in theory, one could now access vast stores of knowledge and online encyclopedias. Eventually, the World wide web would come to be known as the Internet, and then later, the Net for short. It all seemed like a great idea at first. But the longer the internet existed, the more it became clear that it was not such a blessing for many people.
The current major problem with the Net is oversaturation of everything. There is too much information being shared and not enough time to take it all in. That alone has resulted in a major flaw of the technology. People have gotten used to instant information and whittled it down to the smallest possible measure. Where we used to read books by the ton, now we are content to read quick memes or digital billboards because frankly, reading books takes too much time. And people have become super busy. That oversaturation is not just limited to books and reading. It crosses into every artistic and musical element available.
We have become conditioned to Swipe Right. To rate someone as Hot or Not. To give a video a thumbs up or down without actually having watched the whole video. These actions alone show how short our attention spans have become since the Internet came into being. It just took several years to manifest itself.
As a musician, I have always used the Internet to showcase and promote what I do. In the past, sites such as Myspace and Soundcloud were helpful ways to market my music. I could not likely have gotten my recordings into record stores, due to the Monopoly major record labels had on the music industry. Like many musicians, I thought I had found a way to make tons of money and gain many fans if I could just find a way to market properly. That should have been easy considering there were 6 or so billion people on the planet at the time. But then something interesting happened.
File sharing sites such as Limewire and Napster appeared. These sites took existing recordings and shared them with nearly everyone online. Musicians around the world took offense and rightly so. The internet was now cutting into the earnings from all of their hard work. They literally lost billions of dollars. Court cases were argued and won. Many of the file sharing sites were shut down, but the damage was done. It had become apparent that the internet could be used for sharing anything and finding anything as long as you knew where to look. Concerning the oversaturation referenced earlier, so many music sites popped up that it became impossible for the Performance Rights Organizations to monitor the all and collect their artists’ earned revenue.
Independent artists continue to suffer because now, the major social media sites have developed algorithms that severely limit exposure to potential listeners unless the artist pays a fee to reach more people. Again, it does not stop there. Such actions on the part of Major Social Media giants, block many businesses and entrepreneurs from truly reaching their target market.
The internet has also become detrimental to natural relationships. Dating sites abound and are filled with men and women who are searching for that perfect mate. More algorithms are set up to determine perfect matches, with few lasting results. These sites have become havens for angry distrustful and bitter people who have been hurt in the past and refuse to give anyone a fair chance. And the sites capitalize on that, with some charging large fees and again, getting no real results.
To add fuel to the relationship fires of destruction, the aforementioned memes have been a dangerous tool in further dividing men and women. These have been used to give quick pieces of advice, usually warning each sex of the dangers of the opposite sex. Sharing these memes in groups and on personal pages and quoting them in the real world has further divided men and women and put the natural relationship at danger of extinction.
The next thing the internet has affected has been the job market. In the years since the internet has been in operation, countless major and minor stores have closed physical buildings, fired the majority of their employees and switched to online sales. Even Customer Service is handled by an automated system. It is reported that the Head of Amazon wishes all commerce to be handled by Artificial Intelligence and that no actual human would have a job. While some of that desire may affect the remaining physical workforce, the internet has already set much of that in motion. Digital commerce and the lack of actual human Customer Service Reps sets a very dangerous precedence.
The final and probably most dangerous reality of the internet is the total destruction of our culture. What do I mean by that? Well over the years, nearly every major piece of literature, music, art, writing, and more have been uploaded to the internet, not to mention our banking information, shopping histories, credit information, social security numbers, household budgets etc. Certainly that has made finding things easy in some cases, but there is a big danger there. Since the internet is digital and therefore electronically based, all it would take to wipe out everything on the internet is the downing of our power grid. Or an EMP from an enemy combatant. And we would instantly find ourselves back in the dark ages.
It concerns me that few seem to see this potential threat, that perhaps the internet is not as amazing as first believed. For many it has already been something that has caused them harm or distress. But many people see those affected as a small price to pay in order to enjoy having the world at their fingertips. And perhaps they will feel that way for a bit longer, until this affects them in some way.