If there were no Internet, I imagine life in this planet would be vastly different than what it has been for the last decade. A man without his laptop would be Linus minus his blanket, or Douglas Adams’ hitchhiker to the galaxy without his guide. It would have its advantages and disadvantages. This paper focuses on what life would be had the Internet never been invented.
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Without the Internet, students and professionals would have to do their research the old-fashioned way, which is back to the Dewey Decimal system, browsing through books taken from musty shelves. I wonder if today’s Internet-savvy generation, drowning in a daily avalanche of information would appreciate their advantage over their forebears. Abraham Lincoln had to walk several miles each day in order to borrow a book and return it afterwards. Applied to web articles, Sir Francis Bacon’s observation about some books’ being fit “to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested” may be written: “Some digital info may be browsed into, others to be archived, and some few to be cut and pasted.”
The good thing about an Internet-less society is that no upstart could give his or her dime’s worth on almost any topic under the sun, including questions on philosophy, theology, government, and sexual relationships through forums in the blogosphere where, most of the time, nobody has to worry about bad grammar and punctuation, could spell words any which way they like (Whaaaattt????) and could use buzzwords like “lol” (laughing out loud) and “lmao” (laughing my ass off) to their hearts’ content (Blogging). Blog forums are a great equalizer between academicians and laymen. They are excellent vehicles of expression that enable ordinary people who have strong views on current affairs to release pent-up feelings, rather than go marching in street demonstrations which may turn violent.
Without the Internet, any man who wants to meet a woman and vice-versa would have to go through the traditional time-consuming ways of scouting for their lifetime partners as our grandparents used to. That limits your choice of spouse to your high school crush or the guy/girl next door rather than to almost anybody who matches your profile. Looking for a special someone the traditional way is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience, while hunting for a lifetime partner from the web is like shopping for goods at eBay.
Whether that’s a plus or a minus is hard to tell, but old-timers still prefer courting girls to surfing friendfinder.com where, with so many cupid matches to choose from, one is apt to become fickle-minded. Without websites in which to post their availability to meet eligible bachelors, mail order brides would be a rare, if not extinct, species.
Without the Internet, the world would be a far safer place. Terrorists who would want to make a real nasty impression on the public would not have the chance to hunt for websites offering a crash course on “How to Assemble a Nuclear Warhead in your Own Backyard.” Extremists would not be able to terrorize the world by online video footages showing actual beheadings of hostages. The downside is that law-enforcers would have to hunt for suspects like your detectives of old: by scanning photographs of suspects from a worn-out album. Internet banking has been an option for crooks looking for ways to stash their loot: Internet banking makes money laundering more difficult to track.(Public Safety). Without e-banking technology, money laundering would be less efficient and easier to expose.
An Internet-less environment would be a boon to our guardians of morals. Without the web to worry about, censors would only have to keep an eye on printers and publishers as well as film and TV producers and distributors to weed out publications and media productions that are obscene, violent, or pornographic. Parents would not have to worry about their kids hitting the button marked “Enter if you are at least eighteen” when they are left alone with the computer.
Voyeurs would have to content themselves reading Playboy instead of having 24- hour access to cyberporn. On the downside, dictators who impose a policy of “Hear no evil, see no evil” in their iron-fist rule would find an Internet-free regime perfect for brainwashing their citizens into believing that millions of people in the decadent West are dying of hunger. There would be no online petitions for them to resign, no websites devoted to washing their dirty linen in public, and no blog forums discussing their latest shenanigans.
Shopping through the Internet has its advantages: you stay in the privacy of your home, click through the displays at your leisure, and besides, you will know exactly when your ordered goods would arrive. On the other hand, old-fashioned shopping exposes you to stick-ups and pickpockets.
The good thing about job-hunting via the Internet is you wouldn’t have sore feet going from door to door: your interviews would be in cyberspace, which saves a lot of time. On the other hand, a job-seeker in an Internet-less society, in order to impress, would have to submit a neat, well-typed letter of application with his/her resume rather than filling in a questionnaire online. A tortuous process, you might say, but a letter tells a lot about one’s personality, assuming that he/she wrote it.
E-mail technology has made instant communication possible with one’s loved ones and has made snail mail obsolete. An e-mail, like a text message on a cellphone, may be convenient and fast, but some of the old people wax nostalgic about the forgotten thrill of waiting for the postman to drop by to deliver letters written by their loved ones weeks before. To those who have experienced the pleasure of writing a love letter by hand on perfumed stationery, an e-mail, despite its digital decors, sadly lacks the human touch.
If there were no Internet, high rollers would have to fly to Vegas, rather than place their bets through the computer minus the nail-biting suspense of a Casino Royale setting. Online gambling may reduce the number of players going to Reno, but it increases exponentially the number of every Tom, Dick and Harry who want to try their luck through gambling.com.
Without the Internet, police and psychologists up to their necks contending with drugs, gambling and alcoholism would have one less thing to worry about (Self-HelpMagazine). The online Center for Internet Addiction Recovery lists several problems related to the abuse of the Internet: cybersexual affairs, cybersex addiction, cyberporn addiction, chatroom addiction, obsessive role play gaming, compulsive online gambling, eBay addiction, and compulsive surfing (Young).
Without the Internet to distract them, young people coming home after school or work would have more quality time bonding with their parents and siblings rather than hurrying off to their rooms or internet cafes to resume chatting, gambling, playing games, or just plain surfing to see the latest happenings. Young people would dream more about the great things they would do to improve humanity and save the world when they grew up, rather than the records they would break on the online video game the next time they visit the Internet café. They would daydream about their crushes and the toy planes they’re building rather than indulge in sex fantasies from surfing erotica in the net.
Sometimes, looking at an Apple computer, I imagine the Internet as a modern-day symbol of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It opens our eyes to the fact that we are naked (which may symbolize our ignorance) and awakens our desire to partake of more and more knowledge in our quest for a greater understanding of the world around us. Like Einstein’s equation, knowledge can be used to good purpose, or to unleash power for unbelievable destruction. Without the Internet, I imagine humanity to be Adam and Eve as they were driven away from paradise, away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
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