The Internet has been an important part of my life for quite a long time now. Which is a funny thing to say, considering the World Wide Web was made public only 10 years ago. When I was around 7 years old, our family bought a clunky, square laptop with an 64MB hard drive running Windows 98 (which no longer exists anymore). Computer technology has certainly come a long way since then. I currently have a Macintosh desktop running OS X (with terabytes of space), and I honestly feel like I couldn’t live without it – which is part of the problem with modern network culture. We love it – and we can’t escape it. Allow me to elaborate on this.
In the late 1980’s, the Internet was invented for what we believe were military and research purposes. During these many years, the agenda for this technology has done a complete 180 degree turn. Obviously, the Internet is still used by government institutions and for researchers to share information, however, everyday people are using it for their own conveniences. Over 82% of Australians had access to the World Wide Web in 2012, and the statistics can only have increased since then. There are many reasons why this amount of people are using the Internet nowadays – from entertainment to research to social networking. I know that personally, I use it for all of the above. Websites like Facebook allow us to interact with each other with the click of a button, and search engines such as Google can tell us basically anything we want to know. It’s far too convenient. Businesses, schools and other institutions are using the Internet every day – for example, most of the enrolments, bill paying, assignments and readings at La Trobe university are done on it’s Learning Management System. All students are connected to other students and teachers via forums and email. It’s quite the efficient academic network. However, it is physically impossible to attend the University without accessing the Internet at some point. It’s great that we’re able to use this technology, but it’s worrisome that we literally cannot function without it.
Apple computers seem to be the ‘in thing’ at the moment, and we know this is true because there’s an Apple store in almost every major Australian shopping centre (and often they are packed with people too!). Apple earns billions of dollars a year, thanks to it’s credulous customer network of first-world citizens. The question really is: why do we do it? We give in to the commercialism and throw money at Apple like a pack of mindless technology zombies. It’s essentially become the norm for us. We give them exactly what they want, because we consumers are hungry for technology. We love the fact that we can meet people, discuss shared interests, learn new things, and enjoy ourselves to the fullest because of online networking. It really is fantastic.
Apple is clever though, because in the past few years, everything has become linked. When you buy a Mac or iPhone and create an Apple ID (which is necessary), the system asks you to ‘link Facebook to your account’. Once you’ve done that, you can ‘link Instagram‘, ‘link Twitter, and ‘link YouTube‘ – which I should add, is no longer a choice if you’re on Gmail. In 2013, Google decided that everyone owning either a Gmail or YouTube account, would suddenly be connected to a Google+ account (which as one can imagine, brought some incredibly mixed opinions). This is a perfect example of how just by existing online, we’re being forced and persuaded to participate in network culture. Websites like Facebook have algorithms that track our every move – which is why the ads that come up on the side of the screen are often relative to what we type about and ‘like’. It’s scary. The Internet knows every move we make.
The fact is, that in our modern world, we are becoming more and more obsessed with the Internet and network culture. Even if we wanted to avoid it – we couldn’t. This is the most terrifying thing of all.