Have you ever thought a life without the internet? Well, to some it would be a very comforting thing to think about or to others a tragic phenomenon we can't even dare think about. It seems that nowadays, our online life has become vital to our existence and the more we deny its dominance, the more we become reliant to it like we need air to live.
The Internet is the new frontier human kind has yet to explore and its influence has been increasing in our lives and has evidently change our society and the way we live. Prof. Yair Amichai-Hamburger, director of research center and computer psychology dubbed it as the 'Internet Revolution' which he compared to the 'Industrial Revolution' of the 19th Century. Our use of the internet is becoming vast and growing and there have been so much literature written about its effect in our lives bad or good.
With the emergence of social media, online communities, activities and learning, we have become more involved and spend more time on internet presence than we usually do. And although some have presented the void of actual human interaction and the lack of authenticity, communication has become extensive more so limitless that it has bridged the gap across boundaries and culture.
So, why do some of us prefer to use the internet? Gila Kurts on the study of The Internet And It's Psychological Context" presented four factors which differentiate internet from actual face to face interaction.
Greater Anonymity - Online presence allow people to easily maintain a mysterious facade. And this gives them freedom to express themselves freely and detached them from social norms. This also makes them express sincerity than they would normally do on a face to face interaction. But apparently anonymity has also given way to too much freedom to hurt and bash people in just a click away (but my thoughts regarding this issue will be discussed separately).
Diminution of Physical Appearance - People are often judged by their physical appearance. It is a determinant of how others will perceive us. However in an online environment, being physically appraised by others have become the least factor and this has provided a different basis for interaction.
Greater Control Over Time and Place - For me online interaction has given another meaning on the phrase "sleep on it". You may have done this quite often every time you are talking about a delicate issue or something you don't want to address right away. So instead of blurting out something that you may regret later, you can stay on seen mode and give it time to process that way it is less impulsive than face to face. This may also mean that online presence can be done anytime and anywhere at your convenience.
Finding Similar Others - For introvert people like me, the internet has become a friendly place to find "your people". These are people who shares the same interest and goals. The 1971 Maslow's hierarchy of needs significantly presented the need to belong which is essential to our well-being. So finding people that resonates your own lifestyle is healthy to the self-esteem.
So is internet our friend or foe? Well, whatever it ensures and how relevant it is in our lives, we can't deny the fact that internet has now become part of our lives. This is the internet era, and to the words of Stephen Hawking, "we are all now connected by the internet, like neurons in a giant brain."