Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why I Love The Internet

I've spent my last few posts furiously ranting about some of the ways the mass adoption and development of the social internet frustrates me. Indeed I get particularly fumed when discussing the seemingly universal deterioration of social morays.

I'm not going to do that today. I am not going to complain about when people check their Facebook or Twitter pages in the middle of a conversation. I will not discuss how when people pause a conversation to look something up, they sometimes rudely decide to peruse the celebrity snuff on the Huffington Post (speaking of which, why is there so much frivolous celebrity news on the front page of the Huff Post? It seems oddly out of place for them...).

In reality, all of those little things that bother me, all of the self-centered activity and, let's be frank, discourteous side-effects really chock up to nothing in comparison with how much I love how the internet has changed my life.

I absolutely love that I can find out about almost anything on Wikipedia (the massive and ever expanding encyclopedia). In fact, even early in my freshman year of college (long before Wikipedia had even thought about fact checking), you could find me on a late night Wikipedia sojourn (I used to call them know, like a safari on Wikipedia).  Starting with a subject of interest, I'd broaden my knowledge, linking to even tangentially related pages. Only the burning of tired eyes, or sometimes homework or class, could suspend my hunger for knowledge.
I love that in the middle of a heated discuss, I can immediately fact-check somebody or get much needed background on a subject (I think my friends value sites like Wikipedia while talking with me for precisely this reason...I have been known to spin some yarn in my day).

Even beyond the fact finding sector of the internet (Wikipedia is by no means the end all in this subject, if you have a minute, go to Wolfram Alpha, it's an amazing search engine and encyclopedia for hard facts, really...check it out), I do not regret one hour of time spent watching Youtube or reading message boards (mostly about apple rumors or the Lakers. btw, GO LAKERS).  From Naptser to the early days of Facebook (when you could see anybody's complete profile as long as you went to college with them) to yes, even twitter (@jkanengiser), I highly value the countless hours of learning, entertainment and joy I have been afforded. 
The point of all of this (to me at least, maybe not to anyone else though) is that as the social internet continues to develop, and as we increasingly value the internet as a social tool, we need reemphasize and stress the importance of "traditional" social methods.  Most of all, we (as a society) must break our pattern of discourteous and self centered behavior on the internet and offline alike.