Globalisation brought the world closer and the internet obliterated all barriers and merged it. Over a third of the world’s population is online and offline means you are not connected, in the virtual world and the real world, because the real activity is now taking place “online”. The number of internet users only keeps growing. With the online world available on mobile devices that can be carried in the pocket, the number of users will only keep climbing.
What’s happening online?
Everything.Chatting is no longer face to face, a book isn’t necessarily on the shelf and you don’t require a picture tube to watch videos. Letters don’t need to be stamped but only sent and the latest news reports and happenings are here before news channels can break them.
Social media platforms are the main driving force for the increase in the number of internet users. Whether you are meeting old friends or making new ones, the internet has its doors open for everyone. Business meetings don’t really require people to travel halfway across the globe. You can speak with your friends and relatives no matter which part of the world they are in, that too with the facility of video calls at anytime that suits you without having to pay hefty phone bills. The internet is connecting everybody and that too without wires and cables.
Doctors are available online to answer queries. So are lawyers. There is hardly any information that cannot be sought and found online. You can book flight or train tickets without standing in long queues or book rooms at hotels and make all your travel arrangements after comparing all the fabulous offers from the comfort of your favourite armchair. Don’t have an armchair? Go online and you will the choice of a few dozens with their reviews done by other customers like yourself that will help you make a well informed decision.
Be it shopping, studying or even watching TV programs and movies, the internet is like that eternal fountain that never runs out. Gone are the days when we used to ask family and friends for advice before buying a car or a refrigerator. The internet will provide detailed information from the manufacturers and industry experts. You don’t need to go to the movie theatre and then pay twice the amount because all the tickets are sold out. That is passé. Buy your movies tickets in advance and go the theater in a leisurely fashion; after all, your place is already booked. The internet has transformed the way we live. It gives us all the information that we need and more.
Is it a good thing?
Are you serious? Twenty years before (and beyond), a school essay of about five hundred words meant a few hours spent in research and toil. Now, just enter the subject into any of the search engines and in a few seconds, you will have enough information to write essays for the entire class.
The power of information is such that almost everybody is now very well informed of what is happening around the world. People are more aware of their rights and companies cannot get away with hara-kiri as the outreach of the social media is such that any wrong doing can be reported and is sure to reach hundreds and hundreds of people in a short space of time. Rescue and relief efforts in times of any calamity can be arranged very quickly.
Who is benefiting from it?
Almost everybody. Political leaders have now realised the potential of social media platforms and are using them to connect directly with the public. Film promotions by uploading trailer videos and interviews of the lead actors are also very common.
Many government forms are now available online and can also be submitted online. Tax returns are one example. Bank accounts can be opened and operated online. You can even send and receive money through online channels.
The internet has also allowed people to to showcase their talents and abilities. It gives them a wide audience not limited by international boundaries, that too almost free of cost. A lot of artists have found fame and success by taking this route.Small businesses whose scope of business was earlier restricted to their area alone have been able to make their presence felt to a larger consumer base. The internet has also provided a vehicle for people making and selling handicrafts in small towns and villages.
Phone calls, video calls, video conferencing, e-mails and chat applications have provided a wide array of communication mediums. This helps people, especially who are away from their homes and families to stay in touch. Social media has reunited people who have been out of contact for many tears.
Due to the availability of internet on smartphones and tablets, a vast number of companies that are manufacturing these devices and selling those at a fraction of the price of their more illustrious rivals have mushroomed. They provide more or less the same features as their expensive counterparts. The availability of cheaper devices has spiked the number of internet users considerably, as previously the expensive phones and tablets meant that only a few were able to reap the benefits and enjoy the pleasures of being online.
The number of people who can access this global network has also been given a boost with mobile networks and internet service providers reaching far flung and remote areas.
What lies ahead?
With internet service providers improving their services and lowering costs and mobile devices getting cheaper all the time, the population of the virtual world is only going to increase.