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Net Is a Waste Essay

In the essay “The Net Is a Waste of Time” by William Gibson, he talks about how he is an “avid browser of the World Wide Web.” While people find this to be odd and his wife finds it positively perverse, Gibson thinks differently saying “I, however, scent big changes afoot, possibilities that were never quite as manifest in earlier incarnations of the Net” (Gibson 691). While some people think he is wasting his time with the web, he believes it will be the tool of the future. Even though the internet has greatly changed since Gibson wrote this essay, I believe that the internet will continue to grow, and will become a bigger part of our everyday lives. When Gibson wrote this essay in 1996 the web was new, and there is about a TV in every home now. Where he grew up down south, leisure activities included sitting on screened porches, smoking cigarettes, drinking iced tea, engaging in conversation, just staring into space, and fishing.

What has leisure time become into now? Gibson has a conversation with his wife trying to convince her how great the web is but she isn’t moved at all. Sometimes the web does remind me of fishing. It never reminds me of conversation, although it can feel a lot like staring into space. “Surfing the web” (as dubious as “the information highway”) is, as a friend of mine has it, “like reading magazines with the pages stuck together.” My wife shakes her head in dismay as I patiently await the downloading of some Japanese Beatles fan’s personal catalogue of bootlegs. “But it’s from Japan!” She isn’t moved. She goes out to enjoy the flowers in her garden. (Gibson 692)

Some things don’t change while people today still download bootlegged music and movies, but today’s internet reminds me of conversation. You can now chat online with friends using Skype, Facebook, and Windows Live. Even business men use the internet to join in business meetings that take place half way across the world. Gibson is just doing mindless surfing and exploring on the internet but he is somehow hooked on it. Gibson then begins to ask himself “Is this leisure—this browsing, randomly linking my way through these small patches of virtual real-estate—or do I somehow imagine that I am performing some more dynamic function?” (Gibson 692).

While the Web is still new, TV has been around for some years and has become a regular leisure activity for most families. Gibson then says, “We have become terminally self-conscious. There is no such thing as simple entertainment. We watch ourselves watching. We watch ourselves watching Beavis and Butthead, who are watching rock videos. Simply to watch, without the buffer of irony in place, might reveal a naiveté” (Gibson 692). Is this the start of a technology controlled world where we all rely on machines for daily use? Gibson talks about “the test pattern”, and how he first remembers the nightly appearance of the test pattern on the television. Now whenever he surfs the web he thinks about that test pattern. “I imagine that the World Wide Web and its modest wonders are no more than the test pattern for whatever the twenty-first century will regard as its equivalent medium” (Gibson 691).

We have already seen technology advance to the point of where machines can build machine and are taking away some of those skill jobs. How far will technology grow before it hits that medium? Have we passed that medium and need to slow down? When do we know that we hit the medium? I believe that we have hit the medium already but technology will continue to grow anyways. Technology has started to take over jobs; everyone was fine since the jobs that the machine was taking over seemed too dangerous or too hard for us. Now, technology has replaced assembly line workers being able to work ten times faster than man, more and more companies are choosing machine over man power. This has created a new job market for man, creating and repairing the machines when it breaks down.

I’m sure you all have heard or used Red Box, this and the ability to download movies right from your TV has practically destroyed the movie renting business. When was the last time you saw a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video? Technology is all created to make our lives easier. Our lives have become too easy and we are beginning to become too lazy, even to get an education. In a study by Travis Waldron called Nearly Half of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree, “Only 56 percent of the students who enter America’s colleges and universities graduate within six years, while only 29 percent of students who enter two-year programs complete their degrees within three years.”

Since machines are taking over some skill jobs that people could get without having completed high school. Now we need an education more than ever to find a job. I’m not saying that another Y2K is going to happen, or robots are going to try to take over the human race like in the movie iRobot. We need to be careful how much we depend on technology; we have already become an obese nation. Gibson writes “Technology would leave us less and less to do” Gibson (692). We need to leave technology where it is, and let man catch up to it.


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