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Internet and Its Consequences for Society Essay

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Updated: Apr 13th, 2021

Society as a continuously evolving organism

Nowadays, society can be described as a continuously evolving organism, and different means of technology such as the Internet can help in understanding the values of the community and a changing social structure. In his book, Siegel clearly states that the Internet can be viewed in the same way as the invention of the automobile, as it revolutionizes the concepts of self-identity while being developed to satisfy the changing preferences and needs of the population (Siegel, 1). Thus, the existence Web 2.0 implies that members of society are aiming at sharing their private lives online, shifting technological development in an entirely different direction and creating a perception of being socially active while opening new opportunities for businesses by targeting a new generation of Internet-active youngsters.

In addition to improving communication and banking transactions, the Internet also provides a plethora of possibilities for information-sharing and exchange (Ferrante, 131). In his book, Siegel clearly states that “in this topsy-turvy galaxy, no person, fact, or event is beyond your grasp” (Siegel, 125). Meanwhile, many users, in posting their profiles on the online social networks, “carefully craft their privacy into a marketable public style” (Siegel, 50). These statements strongly support the fact that one’s privacy is no longer valued in the era of Web 2.0. Every member of society is encouraged to share every moment with the world and become recognized for these posts. It unveils important insights regarding a new perception of self-identity, where an individual shows creativity by means of participatory culture and classifies him- or herself as a part of the Internet puzzle.

At the same time, the Internet can be described as an instrument that creates a realistic illusion of social life. Today, sociologists do not underestimate the significance of social interaction, and socialization is one of the most critical processes involved in successful integration into social life (Ferrante, 73). In this case, on the one hand, the Internet helps asocial individuals overcome communication barriers and become valuable members of society, contributing to the development of societal values (Siegel, 6). Nonetheless, on the other hand, Web 2.0 creates only an illusory perception of being surrounded by people while in reality isolated by the Internet. Thus, a combination of these factors along with the first statement implies that people tend to avoid real-life interactions and prioritize chatting online. It could be said that the Internet and its level of interference with everyday activities can contribute to the development of entirely new patterns of communication and cause them to be online-based.

Apart from promoting major social changes, the Internet has had an intense impact on business activities, as now, marketers find they must focus on creative approaches to advertising. For example, the Internet itself can be described as one strategy to manipulate a younger generation of consumers as they are highly responsive to fashion trends and spend time on social networks. Being dependent on social recognition and replacing real life with online content are critical factors that drive change and must be considered by marketers. For example, this matter also diverts focus from such important spheres as science and innovation to the events of one’s private life, limiting growth and the technological strength of society (Siegel, 50). Satisfying individual needs and wants thus becomes a priority and key to prosperity in a “Culture of Narcissism” (Siegel, 6).

The analysis of the Internet has helped to reveal that human beings have evolved, and development of the Internet has been one of the consequences of Homo Interneticus (Siegel, 172). Today, egocentric views are gaining popularity in a geometrical progression as people replace real-life communication with online interactions. This trend is increasing dependence on social recognition, and more and more people are sharing their everyday stories with the help of the participatory culture. Despite positive intentions for the rapid socialization of asocial individuals and people with deviant behavior, the Internet merely creates a false impression and only makes people more isolated. It could be said that satisfying narcissistic needs has become a new a golden path for modern businesses, but, unfortunately, it limits the development of technology and causes deterioration in other social spheres.

The ideas of the Internet

The ideas of the Internet added novelties to the social structure and enhanced communication, as there was no need to be physically present in the vicinity of another person to engage in conversation. Apart from these benefits, the development of Web 2.0 caused the growth of narcissistic culture, as Siegel stated in his book Against the Machine: Being Human in the Era of the Electronic Mob (Siegel, 6). It could be said that the author was able to address the major consequences of the Internet in referring to self-identity, egocentrism, and the lack of privacy. However, the author was not able to predict how the Internet could become a suitable platform to disseminate ideas of violence and terrorism and spread the principles of ISIS worldwide, and that governmental intervention would be needed to control and diminish disruptive groups and protect the population from this type of aggression.

Today, terrorism has become one of the major threats to social safety. The outcomes of these attacks not only impact the physical condition of the individuals affected but also elevate levels of fear and anxiety (Ferrante, 375). Its development and quick spread are highly connected to the Internet phenomenon. In his book, Siegel clearly stated that Web 2.0 was an enabler of online interactions and information-sharing and could be compared to the invention of the automobile to satisfy the continuously increasing needs of contemporary society (Siegel, 1). In this case, along with marketers, ISIS and other terrorist organizations are taking advantage of these principles. For example, the Internet enables banking transactions online that cannot be easily tracked due to the lack of transparency. Such a capability helps provide for different organizations that support ISIS worldwide and organize terrorist attacks. This feature of the Internet assures delivery and maintenance of a constant supply of weapons and finances (Levitt). Thus, to stop the financial stream to ISIS’ organizations, governmental intervention is a necessity. With the help of a sufficient level of control over financial transfers online, it will be possible to monitor cash flows outside banks (Levitt).

At the same time, due to the possibility of creating different social groups online, companies can unite people who share similar interests. ISIS was also able to view this aspect as highly beneficial since it could help in spreading their ideas around the world. Experts describe the content marketing scheme of ISIS as powerful and highly influential (Leach). Having this advantage has been helping them to win an online war while attracting more and more followers to their cause (Leach). Increasing the awareness of the population, controlling online groups, and providing safety guidelines for browsing are only some of the changes that can improve the use of the Internet.

Based on the factors discussed above, an understanding of the impact of different public groups who use social networks is critical. Nonetheless, the rising trend of cyberterrorism cannot be underestimated. Change is reasonable, as the Internet provides terrorism with a plethora of opportunities and sophisticated ways to increase the level of fear in society (Bogdanovski and Petreski, 59). Today, this violent threat is represented in the form of computer viruses, disruption of social networks, and theft of confidential information (Bogdanovski and Petreski, 61). The government understands the need to address this issue, and cybersecurity is a new approach to prevent or eliminate these problems and make online surfing safe for regular users.

Overall, it could be said that Siegel was able to predict the major changes that would take place in modern society. Nonetheless, it seems that the author did not see the potential for the consequences of the Internet and Web 2.0 to be as negative as they have become in recent years. It could be said that the phenomenon of the Internet contributed to the rise of terrorism and ISIS, though Siegel did not anticipate this situation. Nowadays, online money transfers help ISIS finance its activities worldwide due to the lack of transparency of these processes. At the same time, the development of social networks assists in gaining more followers and spreading information about cyberterrorism. It remains apparent that the government is able to foresee these changes and must intervene to make Internet surfing safe for society and minimize the levels of anxiety caused by terrorism.

Works Cited

Bogdanovski, Mitko, and Drage Petreski. “Cyber Terrorism – Global Security Threat.” International Scientific Defense, Security and Peace Journal, vol. 13, no. 24, pp. 59-72.

Ferrante, Joan. Sociology: A Global Perspective. Cengage Learning, 2012.

Leach, Jimmy. The Huffington Post. 2016, Web.

Levitt, Mathew. Business Insider. 2015, Web.

Siegel, Lee. Against the Machine: Being Human in the Era of Electronic Mob. Profile Books, 2011.

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