Monday, December 18, 2006

 

Does Technology Unite or Divide?

This is a question that has emerged in my head many times over the course of this class. I can't seem to settle on an answer. While the internet brings together people with common interests who wouldn't otherwise be likely to correspond, it also encourages people to stay in rooms, but themselves, intereacting via computer rather than personal contact. It is bad to interact over the net instead of in person? Where to draw the line? I pay my bills online, am I being anti-social? Should I, as a good and active member of society, go to the bank to interact with the teller and pay my bills there? But it's so convenient to pay online, no trip to the bank, I can pay my VISA in the few minutes between classes. How far does convenience go as an excuse? After all, it's more convenient for those with similar but uncommon interests to communicate online rather than through the post or in person in many cases. Is interaction or the form interaction takes more important?
On a global scale, the internet is allowing many people to learn about people and cultures they may not have otherwise experienced. Yet most people are not going online for an enlightening experience, they want to shop, or play video games, or find out if Britney will take back K-Fed. I would like to see more research into how effective the internet is in bringing together people from diverse cultures. There are so many resources online that while those with similar interests can find each other, the vast amount of resources makes it possible, and likely, that you will never cross paths with those without your specific interests; that's not very unifying. Does the internet serve to reinforce divisions?

But then, what do we expect the internet to be? The internet doesn't claim to be the solution to global disharmony. Most people seem to use the internet as an extension of what they do in their usual lives. Do we expect too much of the internet to expect it to change people? After all, it is just a tool, we're the ones using it. The criticisms of the net are actually criticisms of ourselves, donkey photos and all.

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