The Internet And How It’s A Double Edged Sword By Lee Wilkinson

The Internet and the World Wide Web can be traced back to the late 50s early 60s and a point worth noting is that the two are not technically the same. The Internet was first created between computer laboratories in the USA, France and the UK. It was soon turned into a tool for communicating via e-mails and quickly picked up by defense organizations. In the 1980s, Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, was largely responsible for creating the World Wide Web and the two have quickly formed what we now call, the Internet.

While there is still some philosophical discussion as to the motives behind its birth, it is safe to say that the desire to communicate was high on the list. In the 1990s I experienced a serge in it’s growth when I borrowed my first computer joined in the action and launched a website for actors called Actor Connection. Its address was and can still be found on the ‘Wayback Machine’ created by Google. What I find mildly disconcerting is that I can pull up that web site through the Wayback Machine and it’s still pretty much in tact, so I and the rest of the world can still see everything I wrote and posted in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This is proof that once you have posted something on the Internet, it’s pretty much there forever. Although technology these days is pretty cool, after you make something public, it will stay somewhere deep down in the files of the Internet even if you delete it later on.

Recently, I spoke with several young people at a career fair as part of the Presenter Team at North Herts Radio. We talked about several subjects and quite quickly the Internet and Social Media came up like Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc. It became apparent that it was not all fun and games and the young women especially had a lot to say. Yes, it was a great way to keep in touch with friends, post photos and keep up with the gossip, music tastes and fashion however, there is a dark side to this. It’s the anonymity and how this can be used in an ugly way. First, there’s the false sense of inadequacy that comes from believing that everyone’s life is amazing bar yours. Then you start to think you’re not as cool, which quickly turns into too fat, too skinny, not pretty and, well, you get the gist. One young woman of fourteen said that she felt that she could not even have teenage blemishes, you know, those things that come from, well, being a human. She believed she always had to look perfect. Worst of all is the bullying and the desensitization that comes from the anonymity, this is maybe the most damaging part of the double-edged sword, especially at a time when finding yourself is difficult enough.

Over the years, since its creation, the Internet has given us huge breakthroughs in communication. We can launch websites and Facebook pages that allow us to publish blogs and create businesses. We are now able to use our being as a brand and launch entire careers through YouTube and Instagram. We can promote everything from slippers for squirrels to books on how to ride a tricycle. Some of our favourite artists have used the platform of the Internet to launch extremely successful careers. But don’t forget that some very sinister things have come from the very same platform that gave us Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol, PewDiePie, The Cosbys and Carrie Hope Fletcher. Remember the double-edged sword? It’s part of the equation, in order to have an up there must be a down for every top there is a bottom and for all the good there is, there is bad as well. I have raised my two daughters to be thoughtful, not just

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