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The interconnection between the lives of human beings and the internet is not only complex and intertwined but also a cause of concern today. With easy access to information, questions are being raised on the impact of this trend and whether the moral fabric of the society is under any threat. This paper addresses some of these issues with emphasis on online dating, politics and religious life.
Acceptability of Online Dating
With the growing use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, the society is coming to terms with certain phenomena that were earlier condemned and demonized (Worstall, 2011). Of particular interest is online dating which has captivated the mind of millions of people around the world, triggering debates, discussions and research in order to have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of online dating.
The question of acceptability of online dating has for instance received a wide range of discrepancies with some people supporting the idea while others believe that it is unethical (Reuters, 2010). It is therefore true to say that almost every person has an opinion concerning online dating and whether young people should be allowed to find their soul mates through the internet.
According to Casciato (2010), online dating has gained acceptance among young people with close to thirty percent of web users considering it as a viable source of their romantic friends. In his 2010 research, Casciato (2010) further noted that Pakistan and India recorded the highest number of people who would prefer using the internet as a channel for romantic introductions.
With almost 60 percent of Indians and Pakistanis accepting online dating, it is obvious that the perception over the web is continuously changing (Casciato, 2010). In my day to day life, these disparities do exist with people having varying stances on the use of the internet.
Many still believe that there are other natural ways of meeting spouses and relating other than using the internet which may sound like a communication machine. Nevertheless, in this time and age where communication technology has overtaken almost every aspect of our lives, online dating cannot be absolutely ruled out.
Internet and Politics
As mentioned above, the internet plays a major role in almost every aspect of human life. In politics, technology has been used to a wider extent resulting into multiple reactions and effects. For instance, the 2008 American race to the White House welcomed significant application of the internet as a tool to encourage democracy and political participation (Nagourney, 2008).
According to Nagourney (2008), the campaign redefined ways of reaching out to voters, mobilizing funds, selling ideas and manifesto and tracking of the public opinion among other issues. Through numerous blogs and websites, politicians and political parties reach out to citizens with an aim of influencing their voting decisions (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d.).
The internet also allows voters to interact with politicians from different destinations around the world. It can also be argued that the internet is able to reach to people who may not necessarily rely on the main stream media like television and newspapers for news updates (Tabler, 2011).
With over 70% of Americans having access to the internet, its role and place in the current political arena cannot be ignored. Most people spend a lot of their time online making it convenient to track political developments in offices and at home (Quintelier & Vissers, 2008).
It has to be noted that social media networks and the internet at large did not cause the upheavals in the Arab world. However, it played a major role in propagating information (Saletan, 2011).
Through cascades of messages which were carried across networks, the need for freedom and democracy came to the attention of millions of people leading to the spread of revolutions around the Arab World. Several political groups created social accounts, blogs and YouTube contents that were solely meant to communicate the spirit of uprising in the region (Howard, 2011).
Internet and Religious Institutions
As a reservoir of a wide range of information, the internet has become a source of spiritual edification for millions of people around the world. The question which lingers in the minds of many is whether we are headed for an e-Church of e-Religion that will cater for the needs of many who are seeking their holistic satisfaction online (Dawson & Cowan, 2004).
How then does internet pose a threat to religious institutions around the world? It is worth noting that the web has not only attracted the unrighteous and spared the saints but rather everybody including pastors and Sheikhs are considering World Wide Web (WWW) to be their daily destination in terms of colleting sermons and spiritual content around the world.
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The ultimate consequence of having this scenario is that religion and religious institutions get transformed with time (Davie, Woodhead & Heelas, 2003).
How authentic is a web sermon? Many analysts argue that some web authors do not have moral authority to write sermons which are being downloaded and fed to believers on a daily basis. The sanctity of the web space is also questionable; having in mind the fact that it contains both illicit and palatable information.
Internet sermons therefore usually carry the image of the source and may sometimes express the feelings of the original author whose intensions and beliefs could be different from what is to be communicated (Laan, 2009).
As a result, the nature and perception of people over spiritual life changes to comply with the internet which may be considered as a true source of spiritual nourishment. The challenge remains to the religious leaders to not only integrate the web but also guard against negative impact of online sermons.
Technological advancements realized in recent years remain major achievements of the 21st century. Among countless benefits, these developments have significantly simplified and transformed communication modes and efficiency (Silverstein & Lasky, 2003). The use of the internet which connects the whole world permits sharing, access and transfer of information at ones comfort zone at a click of the mouse.
Indeed every sphere of human life has been touched in one way or the other ranging from social, economical and spiritual. Businesses have expanded and realized tremendous growth through the integration of internet technology and digitalization.
Young people have resolved to use the internet as the avenue to develop relationships through dating while other people consider the internet as their source of spiritual nourishment (Casciato, 2010).
Of importance is the fact that there exists an interconnection between the internet and the lives of people. As a result, no one can run away from the web; it is either affecting you directly or indirectly. For many adults, who may consider the internet as a source of very important materials, they may be rudely shocked to learn that their sons and daughters are finding marriage partners online (Silverman et al., 2007).
Should the society denounce the internet and revert to 19th century technology? Logically, the internet is a major achievement in the history of human kind and no one would dare consider such a move. The advantages of the internet by far outweigh its demerits, qualifying its application to be worldly acceptable.
An understanding of the predisposing factors which make internet use threatening is equally important. For instance, many people who prefer online dating do so because of certain existing circumstances and conditions. Issues like nature of career and level of education play a pivotal role in determining individuals’ reactions towards the use of the internet and its perceived effects.
People with lower education level easily accept the use of the internet as a dating channel as compared to those with advanced qualifications (Attwood, 2007). This disparity explains why particular generations appreciate the idea than others.
Additionally, people with tight working schedules find a lot of comfort in making online friendships because of limited time as defined by their careers. Online dating also offers a wider range of possibilities in terms of choices as opposed to the traditional way of meeting friends which could be limited geographically.
No one can deny that online communication has turned out to be a significant toolkit for leaders around the world. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasized that the internet can pull down the leadership of a country especially in cases of revolutions as witnessed in the Arab World (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d.).
In a dictatorial environment where freedom of speech is limited, the internet has been employed as a last resort in mobilizing people and making them fight for their deprived rights.
Based on the above arguments, it is evident that the web plays an enormous role in human life mainly by augmenting the flow and access to information around the world. This has generated varying perceptions within the public with a section denouncing this mega communication tool.
There is every need to cautiously appreciate the role of the internet since it has two sides which could either be beneficial or destructive to the society.
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