“I Wish the Internet Had Never Been Invented.”

Those were the words of one of my dinner companions tonight, a good friend I have known for 37 years.

We actually met in a Lamaze class in 1982 when our spouses were pregnant with our first child, and from that humble beginning, a close, long-lasting relationship was formed.

The World Wide Web wasn’t created until 1990, so we knew each other before the internet was really a thing.

The world is certainly a different place today than it was 30-plus years ago, in no small part because of the Internet.

Trying to imagine the world without the internet is nearly impossible to do as a thought experiment since it has become such an entrenched part of our personal and business lives. We take it for granted. And who knows what life would be like today without it.

Yes, I’ll admit that the Internet has created its own unique set of problems – security issues, privacy issues, internet addiction, cat videos, and an always available attitude towards work, to name just a few.

But at the same time, it’s created a wealth of opportunities that would likely never have happened, or certainly not at the speed that such opportunities happen today.

Here are some amazing things I can do because of the Internet, that likely would not be possible without the internet:

  • look up anything of interest and get an answer in less than a second
  • real-time traffic directions, spoken to me through my car’s speakers
  • re-establish connections with long-lost friends and relatives
  • share this blog with people from around the globe
  • take an online course, and get real-time feedback
  • listen to virtually any song I want, when I want
  • choose from millions of books and start reading the one you want in less than a minute (and walk around with thousands of books on a device that weighs less than one pound)

I’m sure I could come up with hundreds of more examples of how my life has benefitted from the internet.

Of course, if the internet had never been invented, I would never have been aware of such possibilities, and I’m sure my life would have been just fine.

All things considered though, I’m thrilled that the internet exists.

But despite all the wonderful opportunities the Internet offers, it will never replace the simple joy of having dinner with friends.

 

6 thoughts on ““I Wish the Internet Had Never Been Invented.”

  1. Has there been any invention that does not have cursed negatives? Having lived (as a child) on a freezing north Iowa farm, the great invention that comes to mind is the wonderful invention of Thomas Crapper that we did not have on the farm —
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Crapper
    But now Bill Gates is now promoting an improvement that has worms instead of water since the water toilet wastes water, plugs up, and breaks down.

    I recently had a pictorial tribute to draft horses (we had three teams on the farm) —
    http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2019/tidbits052919.htm
    But a professor friend of mine at the University of Florida reminded me of how much we preferred our one tractor on the farm (that did not have to be harnessed every time we needed it).

    Yesterday I cursed Alexander Bell when the third robo call fraud in less than an hour (from India) claimed my Microsoft Office license would be cancelled if I did not send the crooks my credit card number.

    Most people in a lifetime spend more on their cars than their homes and put their lives at risk every time they pull out of a driveway. But who wants to go back to saddle horses?

    My point is that the Internet is like every other invention that became a daily part of our lives. There’s no perfect invention, and crooks are finding ways to make our lives miserable with telephones, television, the Internet, etc.

    Yeah, we could do without them but who wants to?

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    1. Those draft horses look mighty strong! And you’re right, every technology has its plusses and minuses, but I think in most cases, such as the internet, the plusses outnumber the minuses.

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  2. I do wonder how much the good out weighs the bad, because the bad of the internet is really bad.

    (And I don’t just mean that we’re at Cyberwar with Russia and the Russian-picked potus who should be fighting with fire won’t even acknowledge that it’s real and an assault on democracy. But I digress…).

    The Internet makes it so hard for kids social development and resilience. One minute they are fine, the next minute they look at their phone and are plunged into sadness (or worse, triggered into real depression) when they see something on social media that they’ve not been invited to or their boyfriend with another girl or friends excluding them.

    Not getting invited to parties or outins has happened forever to teens, but the pre-internet difference was that we didn’t know about it, necessarily, or by the time we did, it wasn’t a big deal. And certainly we did not have to see their happy, smiling faces in real time plunging us into immediate feelings of loneliness.

    “Comparison IS the thief of joy” and (as I learned from my Yale MOOC on the Science of Well Being) our happiness is “all about our reference points.”

    The internet makes comparison easier and contentment harder. It not FOMO (fear of missing out) it is KOMO (_Knowledge_ Of Missing Out) … it happens to adults too, but our prefrontal cortexes are more equipped to handle it.

    It happened to me just the other day, Memorial Day Weekend. I had a great, busy day socializing at a 3 hour brunch with my friends… then taking my son swimming and playing tennis, so happy that the weather was warm, the outdoor pools had opened.

    I didn’t even check email until 7pm…but when I did, to my dismay I discovered I’d completely forgotten to take my son (who has autism) to a Best Buddies event… he lives for these events. He marks them on the calendar and counts the days. But I’d forgotten to write that one on the calendar…so he missed IRL experience (and social experiences, as the MOOC explains, are scientifically proved to be essential to human happiness/well being).

    I learned he’d missed an afternoon hike at MeadowLark Gardens (a place he loves) with neurotypical teens from his high school who he also loves (they are so nice and volunteer to hang out with their classmates with special needs). UGH.

    I went from feeling on top of the world having my own social needs cup filled to feeling like the worst mom in the world as I totally could have taken him to the Best Buddies event–if only I’d checked email 3 hours earlier! (I don’t have email notifications on my phone to avoid the distraction.) So I was plunged into guilt, depression, feelings of failure…all due to one email full of photos of the fun he’d missed only hours before.

    So: yes. that day I not only kicked myself for not having written the event on my calendar, but I wished I’d never even seen the email to show me my screw up…

    that was a day I “wished the internet had never been invented” and I hoped my son wouldn’t see any photos the group posted on facebook of the people and the fun he missed.

    Yet yesterday he participated in a Best Buddies event that was organized via the internet/email… that I learned about and RSVP’d via evite… that I ordered the right Tshirt size and bike rental for him thru email …an event that I DID see the reminder emails, that I did write on the calendar, that was SO MUCH fun for him.

    So. Yes. I guess I am glad the internet was invented. And yet when I put up a post w/ photos on Facebook about it ( https://www.facebook.com/susan.goewey/posts/10215140195960782 ) …my heart sank when one of the other Best Buddies commented how sorry he was that HE HAD MISSED IT!

    And I knew I’d participated in his KOMO.

    And that turned a little bit of my joy that we’d had such a wonderful day into guilt that I’d made him sad to miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess the internet mimics real life, with its ups and downs, as you experienced. But it sounds like your son had a great weekend; swimming, tennis, and Best Buddies – all thanks to you, and I think that’s the best takeaway from your post.

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  3. I think we’d all be lost without the internet. I remember having to go through Dictionaries, the thesaurus, and the yellow pages — for those of you who are too young to remember, it was a great big thick book with thousand of pages of details that you had to scroll through to find your nearest plumber, electrician and so on.

    Now, I get p’d off when it takes more than 5-10 seconds to get the answers I need via google.

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