Since completing university, Paul has worked as a librarian, teacher, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.
The Pros and Cons of the Internet and Information Revolution
The computer revolution that started in the latter part of the 20th century is potentially just as significant as the industrial revolution that began two centuries before it—and it may well turn out to have even more impact on the way that human beings live, work, and communicate with each other.
One of the major developments to come out of the advances in computer and communication technology was the creation of the internet, an innovation with effects on the economic and social development of humanity that are still evolving and being assessed.
Given the huge influences on work and entertainment, plus the effective further democratization of information, the long-term effects may be societies evolving different structures, as well as humans developing a different view of themselves.
The effects may not all be positive, however. Increasing restrictions and spying by governments, the spread of misinformation, extremist ideas, child pornography, bullying are just a few examples of negatives that the internet has brought with it.
Given its huge impact, I thought it would be interesting and instructive to list the main advantages and disadvantages of the internet revolution, which you can read below.
9 Advantages of the Internet Revolution
- Speed of communication: The internet means that people can communicate using a variety of media types in real-time over long distances now. In the past, the telephone and fax machines were the only devices that could communicate in real-time, and they had major limitations.
- Interactive link-up: Unlike traditional media such as books, which are static and read-only, the internet can provide services that constantly update and are genuinely interactive. That means that many sources of information, at least in theory, never go out of date, as happens with traditional media such as printed books or newspapers.
- Global scale: The worldwide web links up the entire planet in a way that has never existed before. It is truly international and brings humanity together.
- Freedom of ideas/democracy: For the first time in history, there can be a free exchange of ideas on a local, national, and international scale. Oppressive regimes now struggle to control their population’s access to news and other information, and the internet can be a useful tool for those organizing protests.
- Pooling of knowledge: The entirety of human knowledge and experience can be stored online and be made accessible to anyone in the world who has a computer and an internet connection.
- New forms of communication: Email, webcams, chat rooms, and websites are just some of the new ways that people have of communicating that wouldn’t have come into existence without the creation of the internet.
- Wi-fi technology and integration of mobile phone technology mean that people no longer have to carry huge amounts of information around in bulky things like books and CDs when they are on the move and can instead store information online.
- E-commerce: Browsing stores and comparing prices, online banking, buying plane tickers, and ordering products from the comfort of your home is now an everyday reality, thanks to the internet.
- Entertainment: The internet has created a revolution in the entertainment industry and provided enormous increases in the choices available for people, whether it’s music, movies, or new forms of activity such as online games. Modern generations have access to massive amounts of media, as well as increased freedom to experience things like movies and TV shows at a time and place that suits them.
We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.
— Stephen Hawking
12 Disadvantages of the Internet Revolution
- Information overload: It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to keep up with the amount of information they can receive over the internet. Many workers now spend a large proportion of their lives just reading and answering emails, for instance.
- Lack of privacy: It is virtually impossible to control what personal information people put on the internet, and once it is out there, you cannot take it back. Everything from embarrassing photographs to slurs on your character or information such as phone number or address can all cause problems.
- Increasing government controls and restrictions: Recent scandals have shown that it is not just oppressive regimes like in North Korea and Iran, where governments have taken an interest in spying on internet users. The Edward Snowden revelations revealed the extent of internet spying in Western countries like the USA and UK.
- Pirate media and illegal file-sharing: The ease with which digital media can be copied and shared means that artists and creators now struggle to keep their intellectual property rights on things that they create, whether it is music, movies, writing, or software.
- Attention span shortened: There is evidence that the internet is influencing the way that we think and that we are now more focused on absorbing only short snippets of information. This means that we often have a broad coverage of knowledge, but it is shallow—traditional media, such as books, gave us far more depth.
- Pornography: The internet is saturated with pornography, making surfing it an uncomfortable and potentially traumatizing experience for parents and children.
- Spam and unwanted advertising: Although the internet’s aims may be noble, in practice, much of it is clogged up with unwanted advertising, and we spend a lot of our time online just trying to sort through it, delete, or avoid it. Malware, trojans, and viruses also waste time and cause serious problems.
- Information and identity theft: The internet makes it very easy to steal massive amounts of personal data from individuals and organizations. The impersonal nature of the internet makes it easy to fake an identity or steal someone else’s.
- Cyber warfare: The increasing dependence of modern societies on the internet means that cyber warfare is now a reality, with the potential for countries to have their military systems, transport, media, hospitals, power and communication networks, etc., knocked out by cyber attacks.
- Social disconnect: Some psychologists are concerned that increasingly people are socializing virtually instead of doing it face to face, which may cause emotional and social problems, especially for children and young people whose brains, communication, and interactive skills are still developing.
- Misinformation: Concern has grown in recent years over the ease with which false and misleading information can be spread via the internet. Social media is a particular area of concern. Bad information can feed conspiracy theories and undermine trust in things like vaccination campaigns.
- Extremism: Groups with violent, racist, or other destructive ideas can use the internet to promote themselves in a way that was impossible pre-internet. Individuals can connect nationally and internationally to organize.
Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.
— Mitchell Kapor
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2011 Paul Goodman
Aaaaa on September 09, 2019:
Thanks for the information. But I think there was something wrong with your essay. In this part "Increasing government controls and restrictions" you mentioned that Iran is one of the governments who have taken an interest in spying on internet users. If you just search about the power of military in Iran and how fast they safeguard against any kinds of invasion, you'll certainly understand how safe Iran is. So this is why they don't let any type of websites that share unimportant matters and as you pointed "pornography" easily grow on the internet. There is something else I want you to know. Iran is not a regime, it is republic. And of course people have this right to elect someone like the president, and talk about their ideas and opinions. People in Iran live in a great safety, and I don't think there is any other country that have this amount of peace and calmness.
Olushola on October 23, 2018:
Your discussion is very brilliant
Gad on October 01, 2018:
Thanks a lot for your amazing essay.
hi on August 14, 2015:
u helped me
Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 19, 2015:
The information shared on your post is good. The pros and the cons of the internet revolution have been described very clearly. Voted up.
manlalakbay on December 17, 2011:
I love this hub of yours. :) Keep it straight to the point just like what you did.
pmccray from Utah on December 14, 2011:
I agree, but now I can't do without it. It puts the world at the tip of your fingers. The attention span thing whoa that hit me close to home now I know the reason. I think it has promoted job loss for some. Postal workers, newspapers, magazines, phone book companies, the list is endless. Thank you for sharing, voted up, marked useful and interesting.
SJKSJK from delray beach, florida on December 13, 2011:
It really is a double edge sword. Too much information is bad for kids, but having it available is great for research.