By Isabelle Walker
The internet is now celebrating 25 years of existence.
And I for one haven’t even reached that milestone.
Yes, I am younger than the internet.
That’s a scary thought, because although rationally it’s obvious that the internet would be a quarter of a century old, the technology is continually innovating that it always seems like a burgeoning, infantile technology ready to expand into the future.
From the beep of the original modems connecting through the phone line to having to compromise land-line calls in order to connect, many of us share funny little memories of the early stages of the internet.
From “You’ve Got Mail” to “The Social Network”, the internet has inspired and written a new era of human interaction. “Google it” has entered our lexicon arguably in a way no other phrase has in the last fifty years. The constant effect of the internet on the social and cultural landscape is inexplicable.
In the last few years, however, the gigantic impact the internet has on the social, political, and cultural landscape has been abundantly apparent. The 24 hour news cycle, facilitated by endless connection to social media platforms like twitter, facebook and Instagram, as well as the constant digitisation of news resources, has meant information has travelled faster and further than ever before. No good gaffe goes unpunished and whatever you (possibly accidentally) put out the universe through the web cannot be undone.
The political impact of the internet goes so much further.
The Arab Spring was united by internet savvy youths who learnt, through Facebook and Twitter, that oppression from their totalitarian leaders was not something that happened throughout the world, and through the power of this media they protested and tried to overcome the tyranny.
Images, videos and reports constantly flow from conflicts zones such as Syria, Venezuela, and the Ukraine, reaching millions upon millions of people, placing immense social pressure on international community to act.
The internet has transformed in ways beyond conventional measurement. It has changed the way people live, interact, gather and share information, love, experience, and create. It has been a vehicle for good and evil in the world.
It is in no way perfect and in no way able to be regulated.
But as we navigate the challenges that the constant evolution of the internet crafts, we become better problem solvers, more creative thinkers, and more aware of the world around us.
Happy birthday internet.
1. Is Social Media Stifling Political Debate?