The net fragments?

3 April 2009

There is something about the internet which worries me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the internet and I believe it can contribute to more happiness and a greater prosperity for the humankind. But as indicated, I cannot rid of the irksome feeling that, instead of unifying us and allowing us, the meek individuals now freed from grips of the officials and the media, the internet is fragmenting our world-views and consequently our visions are becoming narrower.

The internet, a pool of information, and search engines, which will fish out that nugget of information I want, make it easier for me to go straight to the point, without being distracted by the noise created by other pieces of information. Now this is great, but is this not been done at the cost of losing the wider context, i.e. not seeing the forest for the trees? A library or a newspaper will have similar books or news next to each other. I may not be interested in them directly or at that moment, and may choose to ignore them, but I am at least aware of their existence by their physical proximity. With the internet, I choose to read a particular article in a journal or on the paper. I choose not to be aware of other views or news. Soon, it ceases to be a matter of choice and we are not even aware of the choice that we have (had).

Ironically, there is more information out there, but many of us are not choosing to utilize the richness that it affords. Since there are so many pages indexed by search engines, easily accessible, we imagine ourselves to know better than our ancestors. It makes us believe that we know a lot when we actually don’t. We know more about less, we believe we are right when without the knowledge which is required to warrant such arrogance.