Answer: I don’t think so. What is healthy about sitting at a computer typing a conversation with someone? What is healthy about reading posts on message boards? What is healthy about having immediate access to everything??
I know, it’s a tad ironic that I should write a blog post about whether the Internet is healthy. As I sit here, sipping on a glass of wine, typing on my laptop, to whom exactly?
I’m only now just coming to realize how dramatically my relationships with people have changed since the invention of the Internet and social media. It seems like overnight we can suddenly be privy to the most mundane aspects of a person’s life, should they choose to inform the masses on a Facebook status update, for example. Suddenly, one is commiserating with complete strangers about the potty training failures of their toddler, or asking advice from strangers on whether they should vaccinate their child, or seeking an answer to a “controversial WWYD scenario”. Would one ever think to ask a bunch of strangers standing in line at the grocery store if the dress they were wearing looked good? No? Then why is it okay to ask strangers on an invisible, ethereal message board? Does one really trust their opinion over a family member, a work colleague, a spouse, a friend? I just don’t get it.
The way we communicate with people is changing at an alarming rate. Not only email — but text messaging, Facebook messaging, community message boards, web logs, the list goes on and on and on. When was the last time you picked up the phone to actually talk to another human being? Why bother when you can just fire off an email or a text message? It’s effortless these days. It’s almost downright lazy! We are more, now than ever, metaphorically, “plugged-in” to that Matrix.
My brother introduced me to this book: http://www.amazon.com/Shallows-What-Internet-Doing-Brains/dp/0393072223. I haven’t read it yet, partly because I’m a little afraid to. Do I really want to find out that the Internet is making us (read: me) more stupid? Do I really want to find out that it’s actually not healthy? Do I really want to learn that it is most definitely shortening our attention spans, for one thing, and giving us a false sense of security and knowledge, for another? When was the last time you read the newspaper, actually finished reading an article, and didn’t just jump to the next headline? Nowadays, we get news in short one -liners. It’s so easy to click click click from one topic to another, it’s like we are all developing ADHD. Information is at your fingertips, but is that a good thing? If one doesn’t have the knowledge or training to truly understand, critically appraise and evaluate what he/she is reading, is that a good thing? How many countless parents have refused vaccinations because “I read about how horrible they are on the Internet”. Really? What qualifications do you have? I have a degree in Medicine. I studied for many years to hone the knowledge and skill it takes to practise medicine. You finished high school? I don’t presume to understand how my car engine works just because I read one mechanic’s explanation on the Internet. I trust my freakin’ mechanic who spent the years in training and apprenticeship to fix my car!
Sigh. I don’t have any answers. Maybe I can ask Dr. Google.