The Internet in Contemporary Society

For a good understanding of the topic under discussion, there is that need to dissect what the internet is.
What is internet? “…the internet is a network that connects hundreds of millions of electronic devices, like computers, smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. through TCP/IP or Internet protocol.
“…. internet is a network of global exchanges – including private, public, business, academic and government networks – connected by guided, wireless and fiber-optic technologies. It provides access to millions of terabytes of information on any topic imaginable”.

The internet originated with the U.S. government, which began building a computer network in the 1960s known as ARPANET. In 1985, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) commissioned the development of a university network backbone called NSFNET. The system was replaced by new networks operated by commercial internet service providers (ISP) in 1995. The internet was brought to the public on a larger scale at around this time.

The advent of the internet has impacted positively on our society and this can be more appreciated if you were around in the times when we lived without internet. When the word internet is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is communication.
WWW. (world wide web) and the internet is sometimes used interchangeably but they are not the same. It is the internet that gives you access to www, while www is the graphical user interface. The web is where the information resides and there are billions of them called websites. You use an application called the web browser to view internet web pages.

I marvel at how the internet functions – it waows me!

Without mincing words, the internet facilitates:

Communication:
Before the coming of the internet, I remember how we had relied on the Redstars, IMNL, DHL, UPS, post Offices etc for our mail deliveries. We waited for days/ weeks/ months for such deliveries to be made. In some cases, it ended in disappointments, stories – untraceable addresses, none to receive the mail on arrival at the given address, the addressee has moved to an unknown place etc
The internet is the cheapest means of communication in the world using email, internet forums, data transfer/file-sharing, often through File Transfer Protocol (FTP), web-enabled audio/video conferencing services, instant messaging, social networking, online shopping, online movies and gaming, financial services etc.
With the connection of millions or billions of devices across the globe, individuals and corporate organisations now communicate unhindered. The earlier mentioned challenges are a thing of the past and thanks to the internet – you can send your emails now and with a click in a matter of milliseconds, the intended addressee receives and sends an acknowledgment message. It is fast and reliable.

Research:
The internet is your best research partner. If you are in doubt of an information, you google and the next second the answer is before you, accurate! If you are also doing your research work as an undergrad or postgrad, the internet provides you with a clear guide and information. All that you require is to know how to input your questions and when. With the internet, life is made easy!

Education:
With the internet, it is now possible to attend classes online. This in some cases, starts with the sale of the institution’s admission forms, filling and return of same online. People now study online – they receive lectures and directives, write their exams and receive their results online. Sometimes, they choose when to attend the class and seat for the exams online. They are no longer required to attend the conventional classes, which was impossible many years back.

Entertainment:
The internet provides entertainment for many – some resort to the internet when they feel bored, lonely, depressed or want to see the latest gist/ gossip in town while others feel it is a companion. Sometimes when I don’t feel like driving to work, I join public buses to see and have a feel of what is happening in town. I found out that the occupants/ passengers are busy browsing the internet, Facebook-ing, Whatsapp-ing or Instagram-ing …. Some entertain themselves by watching videos or listening to the music of their favourite artists on Youtube; some post selfies on Facebook and Instagram while others are doing video call. The internet is there to entertain you!

Shopping Online:
Shopping online is been made simple by the internet. Now you do your shopping and pay online courtesy of the internet. You make your purchases with Amazon, Alibaba, Payporte, Jumia, Konga etc and deliveries are made at your doorstep.

Employment:
The internet is a huge source of employment; it provides unlimited employment opportunities for the teeming public. There are millions of job engagements on the internet and many have remained unexplored. Our team has agreed to see how we can empower our youths using the internet as the driver.

Work:
With the internet, CEOs of many organisations no longer require to report to work every day – they seat in the comfort of their studies/ rooms and monitor goings-on, get update reports from their subordinates, send directives and responses to same, thereby reducing the travel time, stress, cost of transportation etc to the barest minimum.

Business Financing:
Also with the internet, the cost of starting a new business is cut by half in some cases. The entrepreneur that intends to establish a new business, may no longer worry about renting an office space, furnishing same etc, as he or she could start from his/ her bedroom, depending on the business.

Financial Transaction:
The coming of the internet has facilitated payment mode. I went to a local restaurant the other day and a family approached the food vendor, explaining that they were short of cash and the kids were very hungry. The food vendor immediately gave them her bank name and account number and the account was credited instantly via smartphone and the family was served immediately.

Moreso, staff who work off-shore are paid their salaries via transfer: relations who are in a financial fix sometimes request for assistance from thousands of miles away after the normal banking hours and transfers come to the rescue. This is the effect of the internet!

Social Media Marketing:
Also called Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing or Online Marketing has been richly enhanced by the internet. This is the marketing of goods and services using digital technologies. Now you can seat in the four corners of your room and do your marketing millions of miles away using the social platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc) as it has been made easy by the internet.

The internet is not without some challenges.

One of the greatest challenges is its effect on children. The other day, I was a bus with a boy of about twelve sitting to my right. He clutched his phone tenaciously, shielding the screen away from me. I became curious to know what he was doing. Can you imagine what he was doing?! He was watching porn video! I yelled at him until he switched the phone off.

Secondly, the internet has created a lot of lazy foes in the society, raising more scammers than before and recruiting more hackers than ever. They use the internet to scam unsuspecting persons. They simply concoct stories or tell you that they provide certain services or have products for sale. In fact, they tell you stories that would make you have your calculator by your, thinking of the millions of dollars you would make after the supposed infamy business transactions. The stories may appear very true on the surface in the first instance; they give you a telephone contact/ address and ask you to make some payments into an account. If you do in some cases, before you know it, that phone number would not be functional anymore.

There are still many more challenges.

To survive in the internet business, you must have the passion, be consistent, patient and hardworking (more as a content provider) be research inclined and have eyes for details, adapt to changes as the world is dynamic, calculative, and ‘sharp’ to excel.

Suffice to say at this juncture that the internet has enhanced living.

Contributed by: Agolo Uzorka (Vice President, Eugene+George Consulting)

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