The internet, developed by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late 1960’s is integral to our daily lives. So much of our lives reside on and depends on the internet in some way or another. But technology 101 tells us that all technology has both positive and negative impacts. So, which are which? What are the positive aspects of the internet? Connectivity…automation. Those are two positive aspects I can quickly think of. But it has also been a disruptor. Think about the time that humans spend tethered to their smart devices. Other examples include anonymously corresponding to others online. Many would never say things to others in person that they sometimes feel embolden enough to say online. I know because I have been guilty of these things myself. When something is new and novel, we are much more apt to experiment or try something that is technically cool or shiny, without fully understanding it. As an avid technologist for over twenty years now, I am just now starting to notice more negative impacts of the internet. Originally, for me, it led me down a career path, leading me to work in web development for several years. I suppose this influenced my views. The internet is both good and bad.
We are at a critical point in history regarding labor and capitalism, and the change that the internet alone has helped bring about in these two sectors respectively. I see Amazon warehouses popping up all over the place. Why? Because you can’t beat buying something at home, and receiving it within days, sometimes hours. It truly is mind-blowing. Automation is changing the labor market. The next generation needs to fill this void or else companies will replace them with automation. It’s just a matter of time but work ethic and a desire to live the American quality of life could help slow down this transition. Yet we see the opposite. Less people are choosing to work and pay is going up. This isn’t sustainable. I have been working now for 32+ years and I can tell you; work still sucks to me to this day. Sucks may be a bad way of putting it, but I don’t live for work. I work to allow me the freedom to do the things and own the life I want to live. As my dad once told me, “That’s why they call it work, son”.
So back to the point of this article. Is the internet disruptive? Yes. It has disrupted numerous industries, political systems, freedom of privacy. The list goes on. But I still feel it has had so many more positive impacts on our world. To me, the internet is transcendent. How could something like the internet have been invented, then built upon on accident? The technology that comprises the internet, and the technologies that the internet have led to are immensely complex, intricate, and sophisticated. Things have and will continue to develop and change. Some of it will be ugly. Some of it will be unfair. At times, the change that the internet brings about may even be devastating, but it is not going anywhere. It will continue to replace systems, some in totality, and will continue to push us forward into the future. So, learn as much about what it is and how it works as you can.