The ART Of Business

The Disappointment of the Internet

After 20 years, we can finally admit that the Internet has been a major disappointment.

The hype that the Internet will be a significant improvement for our lives has, for the most part, remained just that: propaganda.

Sure, there have been some gains – for a few.

But, for the vast majority of users, the Internet remains what that other once over-hyped medium- television – has always been: an escape from reality and a trip to the circus.

The overall population is no smarter today than before the “information superhighway” became commercialized.

The same was true when television emerged as a new medium.

Many saw TV as the world’s largest classroom.

Today, the same kind of misguided zealots have been saying similar things about the Internet.

Maybe that’s true if channel surfing, incessant advertisements, porn, sports, and celebrity-driven “news” can be substituted for reading, writing, science, exercise, and civics.

In some ways, in fact, the population may be even dumber and less engaged with the Internet.

Smaller numbers of us each year visit libraries, vote, or read books and newspapers.

Even worse, those who do visit libraries increasingly do so in order to access the Internet.

And, like television, the Internet is addictive.

Take one day- 24-hours- and try not to look at any screens that glow.

You’ll experience the same withdrawal symptoms as a cocaine addict trying to break it off.

As Marshal McLuhan observed so well nearly 50 years ago, “First we build the tools, then they build us.”

 

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