You don’t have to search hard to find articles about how technology is ruining our lives, how the internet is full of predators, how the web has taken away our ability to communicate face-to-face with another human being.
I say, baloney. The internet is a good thing. It’s helped us break down global and cultural barriers. It’s given people a way to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. And it’s made us smarter. Truly, I believe that.
In honor of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Web, Pew Research asked internet users to quantify their experience. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
- 90% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6% say it has been a bad thing, while 3% volunteer that it has been some of both.
- 76% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for society, while 15% say it has been a bad thing and 8% say it has been equally good and bad.
I’m so happy to see these stats. I’m going to print that chart and carry it around in my wallet. At least once a month, I’m caught in a conversation where I have to defend the internet and my choice to make a living on the web. Sure, there are bad things and bad people on the internet, but the same can be said for the “real” world.
And like it or not, we’re here and we’re so attached that we can’t go back. Look at the rise in internet usage over the past few years.
Another couple of years and we’ll have maxed out in the US.
Then we move to mobile. Cell phone ownership rose from 53% in 2000 to 90%. Smartphone ownership is up from 35% in 2011 to 58% now.
We’ve become so attached to the internet that 46% of users say it would be very hard to give it up. Only 17% couldn’t live without their landline telephone. But ouch. . . only 10% said they couldn’t live without social media. (Hear that Facebook!)
67% said that the ability to communicate online has strengthened their relationship with friends and family. And I’m really bolstered by the fact that 76% said that people on the internet are mostly kind to each other. Many people mentioned incidents where people got together online to help out someone who needed assistance, or to help a community solve a problem.
Sadly, younger users were more likely to experience bad behavior on the internet. 44% said they’ve witnessed people being unkind to others online and 39% said they’ve had to leave an online group because people were mean. These numbers are much higher than in any other age group.
As bad as that sounds, it goes a long with life in general, doesn’t it? There’s as much bullying in school as there is on Facebook. But it’s not all bad. 69% of 18-29’s also said they’ve witnessed an online group helping someone. How often does that happen in high school?
The internet has given us all an amazing opportunity to connect with people we never would have met otherwise. That’s good for each of us as a person and for us all as a society.
Happy birthday, internet – I’m so glad we met.