In today’s digital world, the influence of the internet is ever-growing since more and more people are using it every day. As the use of the internet is increasing, there is an increasing debate about whether or not it really helps to bring people closer together. Certainly, when web designers create websites, it is often for companies who are looking to reach out to the consumers to keep them up to date with what their business is working on, suggesting the intention to bring people closer together is there in theory.
Probably the best argument in favor of the internet bringing people closer together is the fact it is a global phenomenon. People from all over the world are online, sharing content and using the same websites. This gives both individuals and businesses more opportunities than ever before to enlarge their networks and reach out to people they may otherwise never meet.
This is best seen in the growth of social networks, which are massively popular. Facebook is probably the best example of this, which has over 500 million active users and still growing. People often use the website to connect with friends and contacts, such as people they knew at school but have since lost touch with. Seen in this manner, the internet does bring us closer together as it offers a platform through which people can interact not just with people they know, but with people in other countries.
Businesses and web designers have obviously noticed this trend, too. There is a huge potential for interaction on an online platform and for smaller websites to profit from the success of larger ones, thereby connecting various groups from different industries through a central hub.
This can also be seen in the recent inclination for coordinating grassroots campaigns through the internet. We can simply argue that, without the internet, all the people involved in these campaigns would not have been bought together.
Of course, every argument has a counter argument and this debate is no different. Many people have argued that even though there has been enormous growth in communicative technology — most notably those platforms operated through the World Wide Web — it has actually had the effect of pushing people further apart.
This can perhaps be best seen through the idea that although people are now more able to get in touch with others than ever before, the kind of communication you experience with someone through a social networking site will never be of the same standard as if you were talking face to face.
There is some merit in this — when you consider that many people who work in the same office now often email each other instead of going to talk to each other directly, you can see how the internet can end up isolating people.
There are also arguments to be made about internet governance; as a global entity outside of effective international legislative control, there are very few laws to regulate the internet and its operations. Of course, there is an argument to be made that this is a good thing, as it means people have a space in which to interact away from their everyday lives.
Both sides of this debate have merit and they are, of course, much more complex once you get further into them. Perhaps, though, this is the point — on the surface of it, the online world is an excellent opportunity for global connections to be made and it offers users the chance to experience different lives and cultures by proxy. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Google and many more provide portals of communication that are unique in human history.
However, as the internet grows and becomes more influential, as governments move many public services online and campaigns are organised through social networking sites, it suggests that those who aren’t part of the phenomena are indeed more secluded than others. This implies that there is still work to be done to make the internet a truly connective, interactive floor and that the debate isn’t over, not by a long way.