Over the last two decades, the Internet has established itself as the main source of information and entertainment for millions of people all around the world. No one could've expected back in 1995, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, that the Internet would get this big. However, such prominence comes at a price. Read on and find out why the Internet is perhaps the most dangerous invention that mankind has ever created.
Always Connected: The Modern Day Dangers of the Internet
This article will talk about the dangers of 24/7 connectivity to the Internet. Includes details about social networks, online games, and more.
Nothing Is As It Seems
One danger related to the Internet is that nothing is as it seems. For example, if you frequent social networks, you've probably seen a lot of provocative (to not say other things) photos that some people use as their profile pictures, trying to pass themselves off as someone they're not. While this is not always dangerous, it is somewhat dishonest. However, it crosses over into dangerous territory when people with dubious intentions do this to attract people of a certain demographic or age group, such as is the case with adult people looking for teenage girls.
Another aspect of this danger is misinformation. While the Internet is widely considered a hub of useful information, it is also full of half-truths and flat-out false data. For example, the Internet has spent the greater part of its existence "killing" celebrities at random dates. You've probably opened your Twitter account to hear someone announcing the death of a celebrity and later have noticed that it wasn't true. Wikis are another victim of this situation. Sometimes, people will enter a wiki page with the purposes of placing false information in a serious topic, usually editing out the valid information in the process.
Lack of Anonymity
When the World Wide Web came into being, people would've scoffed at the notion that Internet denizens were not anonymous. In fact, for a time, anonymity was one of the Internet's greatest selling points. However, take a closer look at the Internet of recent years. When was the last time you visited a site that did not have a "Log in With Facebook" button? For most of you, this may not be a five second question. It may actually require careful thought and analysis to find a site that does not implement Facebook integration at some level. Of course (for now) you can choose not to use your Facebook account to log in to websites.
However, that doesn't mean you're safe. For the technologically inclined, there are many ways to find out the search patterns of an individual. Marketing companies love to figure this stuff out so they can target content at their users to maximize their profit margins. In my personal opinion, that's bad enough already, but it gets worse. Go check Google one of these days and take note of just how many companies they own. Between Google and Facebook, the two giants own a sizeable portion of the Internet, and they're only going to continue growing. What if the powers that be one day declare that you must have a Google or Facebook account to interact with the Internet?
It sounds like a scatterbrained conspiracy theory, but it wouldn't be the first time an organization has forced someone to do something potentially self-destructive to get something in return. And it sure won't be the last.
An Addicting Environment
As humans, we have a natural limiting factor that prevents us from doing one particular thing for too long. You might be able to pull off writing a book for twelve hours a day for a few days, but after a while your mind will shut down and you'll have to do something else, even if for only a day or so. However, the Internet offers you no such respite. The Internet is highly addictive. Since it is effectively a hub for all sorts of things (and then some), you will always have something new to do on the Internet. If you have an addictive personality, this is beyond dangerous.
Right now, there is a trend with high-budget video games of forcing people to stay connected to the Internet to play said games. They can then integrate all sorts of social features into the experience with the sole objective of making a more addicting game. If you have ever played a Zynga game ('Ville games, Draw Something, Poker, among other things), then you know what I'm talking about.
While one could argue that it is up to the individual to measure themselves, it doesn't change the fact that one of the chief dangers of the Internet is the addictive factor.
The Internet pulls you in and never lets go. While this seems like a hyperbole, this follows from my previous section. You start to replace real-world interactions with virtual interactions, and your trip into the clutches of the Internet begins. Pretty soon, you're only purchasing items from online stores even if they're more expensive, because you're hooked on the Internet. You find a virtual analogue for every real-world thing (think this is impossible; you'd be amazed) and suddenly your life is reduced to you and your computer.
That's the power of constant immersion. That's the power of the Internet.
While the Internet has been host to many positive initiatives, it is also one of the most dangerous inventions of mankind. With the ability to seamlessly replace your physical existence with a virtual existence just by existing, it is something to always be careful about. Keep in mind the dangers of the Internet and you will find it is a wonderful place to be, in spite of all that I have said.
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)