The Internet is said to have started from the US Defense Department’s plan of creating a network of interconnected super-computers that would continue functioning even if one computer in the network is destroyed as a result of bombing. Discovering that communication and sharing of information within the network is faster and more convenient, other large computer sites found in universities and other government departments established links with these supercomputers. Soon computers in other countries and other organizations also linked up such that an INTERnational NETwork of computers evolved.
This is the basis of its current name, Internet. <http://www. learnthenet. co. za/pg4. html> Today, the internet is still in the process of evolving as contemporary man continues to find more ways to harness its power, reach and adaptability. As one of the material aspects of contemporary culture, the internet has triggered cultural changes around the world as societies adjust to realities of modern life. As Naylor said, “Change is a necessary part of culture whereby groupings and individuals adjust or alter their beliefs, behaviors, and material and sociocultural productions.
” (Naylor 37) This paper presents the cultural changes brought by the internet into present day society. It tackles how the internet is changing viewpoints on human relationships, the avenues of expression that it created, the sub-culture that has arisen from among its ardent users, the new business models and markets that it has spawned and its role as an agent of socialization of children. Changes Resulting from the Use of the Internet The internet is slowly redefining the usual notion of human relationships as one that entails physical proximity and contact.
Through the internet, physical distance is bridged and a “virtual connection” is achieved as persons get connected through the web. With the aid of a webcam, persons on opposite sides of the globe can achieve “virtual presence and reality”. Hence, web-based relationships are engendered both on the personal and commercial level. While such arrangement could forge stronger ties among family members who may have been physically separated due to demands of work, it could also create pseudo-relationships.
It is very easy for an individual to assume an identity and engage in countless relationships with other people who may have also assumed a false identity. One can create a Friendster account using real or imagined names and personal attributes hoping to snare a friend somewhere in the vast expanse of the internet. As one could readily assume an identity, one could readily shed it off as well. In effect, while the internet affords a person a chance to get in contact with other people, it also affords an opportunity to exploit such relationships for self-promotion and gratification.
Hence, whereas human relationships used to entail profound emotional bonds, human relationships created and fostered through the web inevitably leads people to view human relationships as casual, superficial and disposable. Inasmuch as the internet provides anonymity if one so desires, the internet has become an avenue for the expression of the sentiments and ideals of marginalized sectors of society or those who consider themselves as out-groups in the sense that their views are still unacceptable to mainstream society.
The horrifying scenes of decapitation by terrorists in Iraq that were circulated in the internet could not have been aired in the usual television stations on account of its gory nature. In fact, dissidents in some Asian countries who have sought asylum in other countries carry on their propaganda work through the internet. Guerilla warfare is no longer exclusively carried out by means through the gun, it is also carried out by means of personal computers that may be continents away from the battlefront. One need not become a newspaper columnist to share thoughts on varied subjects.
One needs only to create a blog or web log where one could write his thoughts on anything under the sun. People whose lives revolve around the internet and are adherents of constant “connectivity” have developed a sub-culture of their own. Access to the internet is a primordial concern and the absence of connection is tantamount to lack of fulfillment. This sub-group, if the group may be called such, has developed its own language based on abbreviations and symbols. For the uninitiated, lol or rotl may look and sound Greek.
For the citizens of the web, it means laughing out loud and rolling on the floor. Indeed, the internet is not only adding new words to the English language like cyberspace and cybersex but it is also evolving a new way of communication where use of abbreviations is the convention. It has also given rise to new crimes which are generally classified as cyber crimes. Due to its reach and almost universal acceptance, the internet has created new business opportunities, new products and new marketing techniques where national boundaries have become irrelevant.
Outsourcing of a business process has been facilitated by the advances of the internet. A call center in India or in the Philippines could be handling calls placed by customers in the US who are made to believe that the agent at the other end of the line is a US-based worker with the latter’s perfect imitation of American diction. The use of the internet for commercial purposes gave birth to what is now called electronic commerce. With it came an array of new terms and business models: e-auction, e-bidding, e-lottery, e-raffle, e-zine, etc.
Aside from changing the manner by which people around the world conduct business, the internet has also changed the socialization process for children. The internet could in fact be an agent of socialization by itself. Through on-line gaming, a child no longer has to leave the confines of his home to engage in play with the children in the neighborhood. Yet even as it is able to link children at play who are physically apart, the internet paradoxically isolates children inasmuch as it promotes the mentality that human relations could be established at such a technical and non-personal level.
As such, the internet is not only changing the normal socialization process of children but also fosters a certain attitude towards human relationships. Conclusion The global influence of the internet is manifested in the pace and manner by which different cultures around the world undergo profound changes. At the time that it was just introduced, its use was merely restricted to select professionals who, through training and technical expertise, could truly utilize it to exchange information.
Now, its use has become obligatory as it is the modern and accepted way of communicating and conducting business. If one has to function well as a member of society, one has to learn its rudiments. Insofar as use of the internet is increasingly expected of members of society, the internet itself has also become a potent way of transmitting diverse cultures around the world. Internet-based radio stations give an individual a wide array of choices in terms of music genre. Thus, an individual is now more susceptible to influences from other cultures.
As the use of the internet acquires universal acceptance, new patterns and ideals of behavior are being introduced. Legislations are being enacted as new forms of crimes and fraud arise through the use of the internet. In this light, the culture spawned by the internet can be said to be in the process of being integrated and adapted by present-day society. Works Cited Naylor, Larry L. Culture and Change: An Introduction. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 1996. <http://www. learnthenet. co. za/pg4. html>