Usage of the Internet is becoming more common due to rapid advancement of technology and the power of globalization. Societies are becoming more inter-connected. Thoughts from different cultures are shared through the use of Internet chat rooms and web postings. Study results also track the most popular uses of the Internet: “this year’s study shows that e-mail is the top task conducted online, followed by general surfing, reading News, shopping, and seeking entertainment News.” (Chang Joshua (2005)) It can be summarized that the Internet is now being used for common, everyday tasks that would have normally taken more time to complete.
Internet shopping is becoming popular amongst users in developed nations, as it is more efficient to ‘shop on the Internet’ than to go physically into the stores. The Internet provides a virtual environment where consumers’ demands are met with supplies. For example, research has shown that shopping on the Internet can result in lower search costs and better product selections. This is because the shopper has the ability to analyze prices from various stores without having to travel distances. The shopper can now shop online for goods that are for sale in a foreign nation, and rather than having to travel to the country to receive the goods, the consumer can order online and get it delivered efficiently. According to the Ernst and Young Survey (‘Internet Shopping’ 1998), prospective shoppers viewed price savings and selection as more important benefits than convenience, which was ranked third. However, using the Internet we have the capacity to achieve both, having the ability to offer shoppers convenience as well as better prices.
Not only has the Internet achieved a more equitable trading environment for consumers, it also gives us the potential to communicate more effectively and efficiently. For example, the cost of sending an email is generally cheaper than posting a letter in the mail, especially for people wishing to communicate internationally. Furthermore, an email can be sent immediately after it is written, and does not need to go through official procedures such as the Post Office and a mail box. The recipient of the email is able to access it from anywhere, as it is a virtual communication tool, as opposed to having a physical mail box where the letters are delivered. Thus, clearly, an Internet communication tool such as the Internet is extremely valuable, especially for travelers who need to be able to be interconnected with their ‘old’ lifestyle whilst journeying to experience foreign cultures.
The power of the Internet not only extends to people who need the convenience of shopping, and to be able to easily communicate with associates and friends, but the Internet also provides an environment for News sharing and encourages people to be updated with the News. Unfortunately, as there currently isn’t any appropriate ‘virtual filtering system’ software out there, although there are many News articles available, they are from the perspective of international media institutions. However, the Internet is constantly changing and is becoming more accommodating to the individual as opposed to just catering to international corporations. Many academics believe that the Internet is a form of communication for people who want to express their own opinions and who don’t want to be repressed by the wealthy, whom are often seen as domineering as they hold too much power in a capitalist society.
Furthermore, many teenagers would also confirm that they have had many positive experiences with the Internet as they believe it is a place for them to ‘escape’ from the pressures of reality and enjoy the entertainment that this system has the ability to provide. Computer games, although some would argue that they actually distract people from reality, provide the opportunity for individuals to express creativity and challenge themselves. Interactive computer games provide an environment where individuals are allowed to explore foreign surroundings and take risks that will result in no harm to the game player. The Internet appeals to the younger generation not only because of entertainment purposes, but young academics have also agreed that the Internet creates convenience to research and university students. This is because many different articles can be found on a specific topic, and not only is the opinions of academics read, but people with unique experiences and in different professions are also heard and critically analyzed. Being an academic myself, I strongly believe that the Internet provides a great environment where people are allowed to share their thoughts and beliefs whilst remaining anonymous.
In conclusion, popular uses of the Internet have largely contributed to the advancement of society. More people are now turning to this phenomenon in order to have an efficient lifestyle where the maximum number of tasks can be achieved everyday. Although some would argue that people are becoming too reliant on the Internet, others would argue that it is a freedom of choice and it is the individuals’ choice to be able to choose how much they should be using the Internet per day, and on how dependent they want to be. Ultimately, the Internet is a tool that is effective when used appropriately and effectively and it is at the discretion of the individual. As quoted by Schipper, “the Internet is a tool that has both good and bad sides; let’s weed out the bad ones.”
Ernst and Young (2000) ‘Global Online Retailing’ survey, Stores, Section 2, January
Chang Joshua (2005) ‘Online Shopping: Advantages over the offline alternative.’ [Online] http://www.arraydev.com/commerce/JIBC/0311-07.htm
Schipper George (2005) ‘WI on Globalization’ [Online]