Oh hai, cyber voyagers! Welcome to the information superhighway. Sandra Bullock is all up in your modem, and Ozzy Osborne is somewhere out back playing Minesweeper and lighting things on fire. It’s a pretty rad place.
Last week, this old clip from MTV News explaining the “worldwide computer network called the internet” blew up across, well, the internet. For those of us old enough to remember Netscape, it was a trip down e-memory lane. Dial up! Simulchat! Coolio?
More than 15 years later it’s safe to say that the internet is here to stay (it’s also probably safe to say that Newt Gingrich is still appalled). Looking back on this clip in a post-Facebook, post-Twitter, post-foursquare world is comical because our relationship with technology and to one another has changed so drastically and unexpectedly since its original airing. To put things in perspective, Kurt Loder cites that in 1995 around 10 million people were using the internet--that number is now over 2 billion worldwide and growing. And a good percentage of those people are now accessing the web wherever and whenever they want through their smartphones-–69 million at last count. There is no online and offline anymore--there’s just life.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about this old news clip is how much hasn’t changed. Several of the sticky issues Kurt Loder addresses are still relevant: hacking, freedom of speech, pornography, privacy and cyber-stalking. Many of the important strides made in technology--the emergence and dominance of social media, increased access and connectivity through smart devices--have further complicated some things and helped positively impact others.
In short: The internet has become the source of the most awesome things ever (the Egyptian revolution, lols cats, Tumbles & tweets), and some not-so-awesome things (cyberbullying, sexting, harassment). And the latter is very difficult to escape in a hyper-connected world. So what are we to do? Use the internet, of course. To help you draw the line between sharing and over-sharing, texting and sexting, awesome and definitely-not-awesome/time-to-block, take action below.