It’s getting harder and harder to define the Internet. I mean, it’s still the same old “series of tubes”, in purely physical terms, but as more and more aspects of our lives become integrated with it, it is in a very real way evolving into something far greater than the sum of its parts.
The job I do for 40 hours each week did not exist in most corporations a decade ago. Now it is an integral part of any success strategy.
Similarly, lasting relationships are being formed online each and every day. I met D on the Internet, and we have reached five and a half years of marriage, with many more anticipated. I also owe as many friendships to the Internet as I do to offline life. I can share all aspects of my life with friends and loved ones – and even, should I so choose, total strangers – and see their own details in return.
Really, once you can download a cheesesteak and a fuck, we’re pretty much golden.
Even leaving aside all of this, though, the sheer volume of information to be found on the Internet is many times greater than the entire body of humankind’s knowledge a mere 50 years ago. Our access to news is so fast that we know of major events almost as soon as they occur.
And, crucially, we all have a voice in the discussion of this information. In forums and on blogs, via Twitter and Facebook, each of us has a podium to stand on and say our piece.
The Internet is the sound of an audience of billions applauding a performer who isn’t there.
Ultimately, the outlet for expression given to us by the Internet is by far its most important feature. Political careers are born and die, corporate stocks rise and fall, reputations are made and lost, all to the rhythmic background noise of a million keystrokes a second.
Opinions are like arseholes, they say. Everybody has one, and few are prepared to look at anybody else’s. Herein lies the root of the flamewars which beset Internet forums day by day – draining to read, but frequently containing valuable factoids hitherto undiscussed.
The Internet is the sound of a billion flying arseholes, all on a collision course. Yes, that sounds more correct.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Internet is that it is rapidly evolving to the point where it could conceivably function as a simulacrum of Jung’s collective unconscious – the mind of a species entire.
‘Tis a passing strange and wondrous thing, this Internet. Looking forward to seeing where it goes next.