Nine years ago, Bill Gates wrote an article entitled Shaping the Internet Age. Bill Gates, whose name brings to mind images of mounds and mounds of money, stated the obvious in his article. The Internet is so and so, it gives us this and that, its potentials are boundless, the challenges are plenty, yada yada yada. So nine years after Bill Gates’ article, how is the Internet Age going? What are you doing in and with the Internet and what has it become to you and me?
The Internet. A Friend.
If I were to dedicate a song to the wonderful World Wide Web, it would be Five for Fighting’s If God Made You, particularly the line, “If God made you, he’s in love with me.” It’s pretty obvious that God didn’t exactly create the world wide web himself but my point is, I am grateful. Infinitely grateful. The Internet is my friend (and occasional lifesaver), and I’m pretty sure it’s your friend too. If you are a normal person (like me), then you use the Internet. And if you’re not using the Internet, you’re thinking of using the Internet. Yes, you access the world wide web maybe on a daily basis, an hourly basis, or on whatever basis, and you think that you’re an Internet aficionado. You may feel that you know the ins and outs of the Internet but do you realize the things you’re doing in and with the Internet?
You are expanding your network. Every single internet user has at least one Social Networking account. The amazing thing about Social Networking Sites is that they allow you Internet-users to create and nurture (if you wish to) relationships with people. As Mr. Gates said, the Internet “shrinks time and distance,” not to mention, expenses. Professionals and companies now also utilize the Internet to develop their networks.
You are creating your personal brand. Your profile in the Internet is so much more than a bunch of personal information and pictures put together. Whether you are an ordinary person, a celebrity, or a huge corporation, the Internet allows you to create your own brand. Through your online accounts or websites, Internet-users and companies alike can broadcast social activities and feelings, and express your style and individuality.
You are conversing with people. Yahoo! Messenger, Skype, Google Chat are just a few popular programs you use to chat with your friends but your conversations aren’t just limited to that. The Internet has allowed you to converse with celebrities, politicians, and product brands. Now you post comments on their Fan Pages, like their pictures, or perhaps tweet to your celebrity crush.
You are exchanging information. The Internet started out as a means to exchange information and that’s what it still is. The Internet is just a massive pool of information that you contribute to and benefit from. You contribute to it through your blog, your Twitter account, and even just your online presence contributes information for the companies out there. You benefit from it because it’s where you get your news, your music, your movies, and your games. Don’t deny it.
The Internet is your friend because it allows you to share. And because other people are sharing too, there’s a lot you can gain from the Internet.
The Internet. An Enemy.
The Internet is a blessing but not all the time. You may not be aware of the many threats in the Internet. Now these are just a few things you need to take note of especially at this point in the Internet Age.
Be cautious about who you include in your network. Do not add contacts to your network that you do not know personally. You can never be sure who the person on the other side of the computer really is. Visiting Social Networking Sites (SNS) are fixed at the center of the activities of Internet-users so hackers have made them a top target.
Be careful in what kind of information you are sharing. Two words. Identity theft. As I have said, you can never be sure who the person on the other side of the computer really is so you’ll never be sure what they do with the information you post. Some websites have customizable security settings that you can maximize to protect your information.
Do not trust everything you get from the Internet. It helps to be skeptical. Choose your sources carefully and validate them every so often. The things you download from the Internet, always scan them for viruses. For the third time, you can never be sure who the person on the other side of the computer really is and you’ll never be sure what is in the files you download.
Sharing and accessibility is not a problem, security is. Happy Internet-surfing! :)