The influence of the Internet


The influence of the Internet has caused a change in the way we shop, communicate, and learn.


Prior to the Internet, everyday tasks such as banking, paying bills, and shopping took time outside the home.  With the Internet, online banking allows people to keep their personal finances on track twenty-four hours a day.  While this is nothing new, banks did offer phone services to do the same functions, the fact that online banking can now be combined with online bill paying, late payments are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Even online shopping can save time and energy.  Shopping for the latest trends in clothes?  Hop on line and pick outfits from your favorite stores.  No more going to the mall, finding a parking space, then not being able to find your size.  Online shopping gives more options and real-time inventory of items.  A mall store may have limited space to display all the trends, but an online store is only limited by the size of their imagination.  Online shopping has even progressed into the supermarket realm.  Sit at home on a Thursday evening and order food for your Saturday backyard bar-ba-que for delivery on Saturday morning.  No more pushing a cart around a big box store, and lugging heavy plastic bags to you car.  Door to door delivery of groceries means you never have to go to the store again.


The Internet has also closed the gap for many families separated by the miles.  While the US Postal Service has progressed since the days of the Pony Express, the Internet has made stamps and phone calls nearly obsolete.  During World War II, letters to and from troops were censored and shrunk to nearly microfiche size.  With all the processing required, letters often took weeks or months to arrive.  Today, a quick email takes seconds to convey feelings of fear and joy to love ones around the world.  As the Internet becomes utilized more for emails, emails themselves have become more sophisticated.  Pictures and short movies now zip around the world at lightning speed.  Want to show the newest member of the family to Grandma in Florida?  Take some video and attach it to an email.  For less then the cost of a plane ticket, she can count all the fingers and toes herself.


The Internet is probably most famous for the ability to spread information, fact or fiction.  We were once limited to news editors of a local paper, then to national cable news.  Now anyone can search the globe, visit local papers in foreign countries, and see the views of all sides.  This ease of information has also brought with it a large amount of hoaxes, money schemes, and fallacies.  Internet websites offering quick money, instant weight loss, and Nostradomises predictions sit side be side websites providing legitimate health information, historic facts, and online stock trading.


The Internet has also helped increase the entire computer hardware industry.  To compete in the latest online gaming, the fastest computers are often needed.  The hardware industry constantly pushes bigger, faster, and more expensive equipment, even to people that already own a computer.  The hardware industry may push speed of hardware as a reason to upgrade, but the average Internet user will always be limited by the speed of their Internet connection.  Dial-up Internet access is the same speed whether using a four year old slow computer, and the latest model from the Dell’s and Gateway’s of the world.


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