The Internet is a wide, wonderful, and sometimes very weird world. It's an infinite source of information, a steady stream of entertainment, and an incredible communication tool, among many other things. Taken philosophically, the Internet can teach us a lot about ourselves, the people around us, and the spinning globe we call home.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you click around one of the greatest inventions in human history.
Image via Wikimedia.org
Collaboration is Everything
No one person invented the Internet. In fact, it's hard to pin down exactly when the first shred of this stunning technology even began. Was it in the 1960s when various government and scientific computer networks began communicating over vast distances? Was it in the decades prior when the likes of Allen Turing and other mathematical geniuses laid down the very foundations of computer theory?
Maybe it was before that when ancient Greek thinkers wrote down some of the earliest math texts, or even the prehistoric humans who had the first ever mathematical thoughts. The point is, we have this technology because of a lot of intelligence and creativity across many cultures. When we work together, we do great things.
You're Not as Alone as You Think You Are
Before the Internet, it was easy to assume that you were alone in your hobbies and interests, especially if they were strange or obscure. Today, it's only a small matter to find an entire web forum dedicated to the exact thing you love and thought nobody else understood. For instance, do you spend your leisure time creating fine art with a classic, spring-based toy? Yeah, that's been a community since 2005.
It's Never Too Late to Reconnect
It may make 10-year high school reunions less relevant, but social media has made it all too easy to find people you knew way back when. All you have to do is ask to be "friends" and you'll have as many updates, conversations, and reminiscing chats as you want. The Internet makes this reconnection easier, but it was always possible. The people we once knew are still kicking around, living their lives, and changing the world.
Never Underestimate the Young
Speaking of social media, let's remember that a lot of the most widely used platforms today were invented by people when they were in their 20s and early 30s. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire roughly around the same time he became eligible to rent a car in many states, while the founders of YouTube and Twitter were newly minted professionals when their companies hit it big. Given a technology of infinite possibilities and an attitude of persistence, young folks in the age of the Internet are doing some amazing things.
It's Good to Accept Change
One of the most complex, involved battles in the post-Internet world is the debate over digital entertainment content. Though TV networks, movie studios, and record companies spent the first decade of widespread Internet availability resisting the digital distribution model, today it's easy to get your favorite movies, TV shows, and music legitimately online with download and streaming services. This has also changed the way we use the Internet. Where once a fast connection was a luxury, today high-speed service is essential for all of that digital content.
Think Before You Speak
Rushed emails and other online messages sent in a moment of passion, be it positive or negative, have become such a common issue that there are applications designed just to ask, "Are you sure you want to send that?" People have had to be careful about how they express themselves ever since the invention of language, but today it's all too easy to say (or type) something you'll regret and transmit it to the world. More than ever, it's a good idea to use your best judgment before hitting the "send" button.
The Internet is a great teacher, not just of hard facts but of philosophy and social interactions as well. It encourages us to explore, self-examine, and keep others in mind, not to mention adopt more sympathetic understandings of those around us.
DJ Miller is a gadget geek, writer, infographic-maker and lover of Mystery Science Theater. He is also a novice comedic who spins humor into advice columns on his personal site.