The rise of the World Wide Web has had a significant impact on our society today, enabling all of us to become part of the ‘Global Village’. The internet has broken down geographical, financial and cultural boundaries, allowing information and communication to travel more fluidly from around the world. But to have a better understanding about the impact of the internet, I decided to interview my dad who has experienced life before the internet and would understand the significant role the internet has played in his life.
My dad still remembers when we got internet connection for the first time; it was 1998. Unlike the fast broadband we have today, back then we had dial-up, where there was only one connection. ‘When we needed to use the internet, only one person could connect to it and the phone line would switch off, which is why we didn’t use the internet much. Unlike today, the home phones were more popular’ he laughs. My dad remembers how slow the internet was as ‘everything used to take forever to load’.
Fast-forward to 2015, where more than 83% of Australian households have the internet, we now have an ADSL wifi modem which enables all four members of my family to connect to the internet simultaneously from numerous devices; whether it be the iPad, our mobile phones, laptops, the printer and even the TV, we all can connect to the internet from every part of our house!
When asked about how the internet has impacted the family household, my dad responded ’the internet has made a big difference in our lives. It has made life a lot easier…and also a lot lazier’. Easier, because now, for example, you do not need to go to the library to do your research; everything is in the palm of your hands. My dad also feels that the internet has overcome the geographic boundaries as it has enabled him to connect with his sister in India through platforms such as Skype.
However ironically, while the internet has enabled us to become more connected through the digital media space, my dad also believes that the internet has made us more disconnected in our physical space. As he claims, ‘now everyone is always connected and on the internet, especially you!’ he laughs. ‘Gen Y spend too much time on Facebook for example. They never switch off. They’re never in the present, which is a shame’. Indeed, this echos Sherry Turkle’s assertion of the way in which our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication.
When asked about the National Broadband Network, my dad claimed it’s a good initiative however it is ‘too expensive’. Right now, we aren’t expecting to receive the NBN anytime soon.
Regardless of what anyone says, it’s definitely safe to say that the internet has had a significant impact on our lives. Just like any technological medium, such impacts can be both positive and negative. It’s just a matter of trying to find a balance with our consumption.