Advantages access a world of knowledge
Disadvantages spend too much time online
In the year 2000 I was a student and spent a huge portion of my loan getting myself a PC and getting online. My PC cost a huge £800 for a big and bulky machine and I paid £15 a month to Freeserve for a painfully slow dial up connection, I think I had 30 hours a month online for that money. Move forward to the year 2012 and I bought a new desktop PC with a huge touchscreen monitor for half the amount I paid in 2000 and I pay less to access the internet now than I did 12 years ago but instead of having to dial the ISP I have fast broadband available 24 hours a day.
I recently realised exactly how dependent I had become on the internet when we had a power cut for a couple of days. I went to my sister’s house not only so I could have lights and heating but also because I was suffering internet withdrawal symptoms! If I was forced to go offline permanently then it wouldn’t kill me but my life would be poorer as a result.
The main thing I do online is connect with other people; the best thing that has happened in my life in recent years is getting back in touch with my dad’s side of the family who I had not been allowed to see following a family breakup when I was in my teens. This happened after my sister found a cousin on Facebook and we both became friends with him there; we then moved onto speaking on the phone and got together again at my other cousin’s wedding and it was like we had never been apart as we chatted like old friends. I regularly meet up with my extended family now and talk to them several times a week on Facebook. I love knowing what is going on in the everyday lives of people I cannot see every day like my great aunt in the USA or my old friend from high school who now lives 100 miles away.
The internet is also a great way to meet likeminded individuals; whatever your hobby is from stamp collecting to writing to travel then you will find a community to join to share your views. I have made some friends online who I have formed strong bonds with and we also spend time together away from the computer and I have found that the people tend to act in very similar ways both on and offline. If someone is friendly and chatty online then the chances are they will be the same in person; the one person I disliked from an online group because he acted like an arrogant sod was just as objectionable in the flesh.
The internet makes life so much easier in so many ways. I’m thinking about simple things like taking out insurance. I remember when I bought my first car and spent hours looking up insurance companies in the yellow pages and phoning for quotes, a task like that is done in a couple of minutes online. I love my online banking which helps me stay in control of my finances by letting me log onto my account 24/7.
When I was a kid we had a big bookcase in the hall with a set of encyclopaedias, I was a bit of a geeky kid so used to love sitting under the stairs reading them. All of that information plus a lot more is available instantly now. I have lost count the number of times I have told my daughter to go and Google something when I don’t know the answer.
There’s no doubt the internet has changed my life for the better but there are some things I would not miss if I couldn’t access it anymore. I no longer spend nearly enough time reading books because I am online too much and I could do with getting myself offline a bit more. I do end up wasting time online playing games or browsing cute cat pictures and that time could be spent far more productively. My daughter spends far too much time online and I would like her to get off the computer and spend more time on her artwork or practicing her guitar. There are the occasional spats and dramas in online communities which can be upsetting and unsettling.
I would be lost without the internet; I even access it on my mobile phone sometimes when out of the house. All things are good in moderation I could do with switching my computer off more; maybe a day free of internet once a week would be a good thing.
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