I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. I’m a confessed blogaholic, IM user, Google addict, Internet junkie. I love the Internet for a variety of reasons. Knowledge is at my fingertips. Information: important and non. Friendships can sometimes be a click away. It’s so easy to find people with similar interests as yourself online. I’ve built relationships with people around the world I’d otherwise never had the chance to meet.
However, it causes me great grief to see what the Internet is doing to our generation and future ones as well. Many of today’s kids are Internet savvy, keep a blog and instant message. With the growing popularity of the blogosphere and IM, the Internet has made poor writers even worse. It suggests that simple grammar is optional. It has reduced the art of the English language down to nothing.
There are those who speak IM-ese in "real" life. Laughter, in some instances, has been replaced with three letters: LOL. I’ve heard that said out loud so many times it makes me cringe. I’ve also received handwritten notes or read papers that give an abbreviated form of words such as "probably" or "definitely." That is def. not acceptable in my book.
I’m not saying the Internet’s all bad, but it’s good at developing bad habits. Schools are going to have to return to the three R’s–Reading, Writing and ’Rithmetic—and teach kids how to write well. They’ll have to add a fourth “R.” Relationships.
With more and more people using the Internet, I wonder how many forego personal relationships to spend time online. Growing up, my friends and I would call each other up so we could hang out, play board games or have water balloon fights. Now kids IM each other and play games together over the Internet. There’s little interpersonal communication. Is our new technology improving communication or hindering it? We’re starting to take for granted the Internet and all it provides. Are we really as close friends to some people as we think? By reading their blogs, we get a glimpse into the life of a stranger, family member or friend. We’re gaining important facts, sometimes heart-wrenching looks into that person’s soul, without first taking the time to build a relationship. There are other times I realize I know too much about some acquaintances from stumbling upon their blogs.
I think we’ve got it all backward. I personally love blogs. It’s a great way to keep up with friends and family, to learn more about one another, especially when distance separates us. But I know if I didn’t read some blogs, I’d either lose touch with people or I’d be forced to take more initiative; I’d be more inclined to call or write that friend or family member. Like everything, there’s a balance—a balance between using the Internet as our only source of communication with the outside world or using it to help better cultivate our relationships.
In the meantime, I think I’ll go read some blogs, drop an encouraging email, make some phone calls and send some letters to friends.