When the internet was first conceived in the 1980s, it was considered an invention for computer geeks and embittered recluses who spend the majority of their time in the quiet confines of a darkened room. Some still believe our new online community keeps people indoors, glued to their screens and worlds away from face-to-face interaction. But the fact over a quarter of the world’s population is now online and the mounting list of amazing online stories and accomplishments seem to suggest this extensive network is actually bringing us closer together, improving and enhancing the way we interact.
Here are the five main ways the internet is shaping and reinventing the way we communicate:
1) Comment and debate
Blogs, Twitter, websites and the ‘comment’ button, which is generally attached to most articles on the internet now, have revolutionised the way we debate and express our opinions. It has created the ultimate democracy, where everyone can write about what they want, whenever they want. This allows people who share the same interests to indulge in proper debates and give each other guidance, whether it’s relationship advice or a lengthy discussion on the meaning of Inception.
2) Arrange and organise
Online tools have also created new ways to organise large-scale events. Whether this is a birthday party or a protest march through central London, social media is certainly a platform that helps us organise ways to meet up or arrange ways to make a difference. The Facebook campaign last year that saw Rage Against the Machine race to number one instead of the usual X-Factor winner was a potent example of this.
3) Quick search
Being able to type something into a search box definitely changes the way we interact, whether it’s an old friend’s name, or a topic or a celebrity you want to start following. We can narrow down what we want, who we want to speak to and how. We can find people in other countries who we would never have met without the internet. This opens up social possibilities a phenomenal amount.
4) Connecting and compatibility
Internet dating has also revolutionised the way we meet and interact. Not only can you use the search tool here, but there are also sites that ask lengthy questionnaires to match for compatibility. This way, you don’t have to go on endless dates with unsuitable people, but can choose from a whole list of those you already have a lot in common with. This has changed the way we find love.
5) Bravery behind the keyboard
The fact online communication is much more detached than normal face-to-face conversation means people are much more confident online. You don’t have to hide your true character behind your fear, but can speak in a normal and unrestricted manner. This has certainly helped people – particularly shy people – come together.
So, the internet isn’t just for recluses. In fact, it’s for the opposite. Example after example shows us the online social community actually brings people closer together.