All hail the internet

Ellen argues that we need to stop scaremongering about the internet and realise that it’s also a tool for good.

Written by Ellen Butler


The Internet. A mere 20 years ago, barely anyone even knew of it’s existence. Most would probably have looked at you like you had ten heads if you said that by 2013, nearly 2 billion of the world’s population would be using it. Over the last 20 years, the World Wide Web has grown from a programme created by Tim Berners-Lee, your regular British physicist, to the largest and fastest growing networking platform the planet has ever seen. It has undeniably changed the way we do our daily business forever.

You could safely say that people from all walks of life have become obsessed with the Internet. Speaking as a 16-year-old myself, the internet has managed to carve itself deep into the way I live my life. My parents might describe it as an extension of my arm, but my phone is the most useful and most powerful thing I own. As much as people give out about the internet and how much of a nuisance and cause of such horrible things, can you think of anything else that has the ability to let you talk to people that are thousands of miles away, do your grocery shopping and find out the latest news all at the same time, without you even standing up?

Ok sometimes things get ridiculously out of hand on the Internet. The creator of the latest gaming craze, Flappy Bird, has taken the game off the app store. The beautifully simple but completely rage-inducing phenomenon has caused millions of users to lash out at the game’s creator, Dong Nguyen, with outrageous and bizarrely abusive reviews. While this particular incident is a bit extreme, this is a perfect example of how people can sometimes take things too far on the internet and end up, in this case, having a profoundly negative effect on this man’s life.

It’s when people aren’t taught the basics of how to act responsibly, that the internet turns from being amazingly useful and enjoyable to very nasty. Every day, the internet is bombarded with millions of 'trollers’ who seem to take satisfaction in insulting and bullying people and basically filling the internet with negative or all-round ludicrous and offensive material. We’re obviously not going to be able to tackle the issue of ignorant internet users, and there are people all over the world that are going to act like this whether or not they’re logged onto their computer, but a little consideration wouldn’t go astray.

But before you post that comment, just take a second to think about what you’re about to do. Now I don’t mean you should spend ten minutes reflecting on the meaning of your Facebook comment and the effect it’s going to have on future generations or anything. But just stop for a few seconds and think about what effect it might have on others and how it could be interpreted differently to what you meant. 

It’s easy for all of us to forget sometimes that things are different when you’re not talking face to face with someone; the way you act can seem a lot more offensive, intimidating, sarcastic, angry or even happy and enthusiastic on the internet than you actually mean. I could go on all day about what I love about the internet, but let’s just take YouTube for example.

Since YouTube’s creation in 2005, it has become the third most popular website in the world. That’s no surprise. According to, more video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S television networks created in 60 years! The world is pretty much crazy about YouTube. And while it is known for content that’s inappropriate or offensive or unsuitable for young people, no matter what interests you have, you’ll find something on YouTube for you, whether it be how to build a cattle chute or karaoke version of the songs from The Lion King. It’s so vast I cannot even put it into words, but YouTube is the perfect example of how vast and versatile the Internet is, for all ages and all kinds of people.

I could write another ten pages on my thoughts of the internet, but the point I really want to get across is that the internet is on our side. It’s not some kind of lunatic robot that’s going to take over the world! So if you’re out there somewhere, about to write an article about another thing that’s wrong with the world because of the internet, stop for a minute and try to think whether it’s the internet’s fault or ‘our’ fault. After all, it’s just a thing; we’re the ones who choose the words.


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