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Power of the Internet - Essay Example

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Our dependency upon internet communication technologies is ever increasing and continually deepening. We use the Internet to chat with friends and meet new ones; log onto it to make phone calls and, so, stay in touch with family and friends or, possibly, strengthen ties with new ones; and we use the Internet to send and receive email communications…
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Download file to see previous pages Others, however, have argued this view on the effects of the internet on users to be invalid. It is invalid because available evidence indicates that the internet enhances social communication skills, increases sociability and expands the opportunities one has for socialization. Accordingly, despite arguments to the contrary, the internet has played a constructive social role whereby, rather than induce social isolation, it has expanded users' social circles and brought people closer together.
The use of the Internet as a medium of communication and, indeed, its treatment as a social space, a place where people meet, interact and form relationships and friendships, has been criticized by many. As Scott Sleek, a Monitor staff reporter writes, "the internet connects us with people we might otherwise never meet - and may be leaving us lonelier than ever." The internet, quite paradoxically, puts us in touch with people even as it isolates us from them, because it creates false social relations which are devoid of one-one-one interpersonal interactions (Sleek). According to this viewpoint, therefore, the Internet encourages the development of antisocial behavior because it acclimatizes people to virtual communications and relations, as opposed to one-on-one communications and relations.
While conceding to the fact that many have argued the Internet to have an adverse social impact upon users, the professors of psychology, Leo Sang-Ming Whang and Geunyoung Chang, insist otherwise. As they contend, studies indicate that the internet has definitely induced the development of antisocial behavior among some users but these same studies have indicated that it has only had that effect on those who had a pre-existing anti-social tendency. This view finds additional support in an article entitled "The Internet's Paradoxical Effect." As stated in this article, psychological theory and fact have incontrovertibly established the internet as powerless in changing behavior or changing character. That is to say, the Internet simply does not have the power to make people anti-social. Instead, "the Internet exaggerates existing conditions. If you are isolated to begin with, the Internet can make you more isolated" ("The Paradoxical"). Accordingly, rather than transform users' characters, the Internet feeds into their existing personality traits, wherein one who is anti-social becomes even more so.
Empirical and scientific evidence further support the argument which disputes the power of the internet to transform people into anti-social beings. Tony Silverman, a social psychologist, studied the Internet's impact on the social behavior of users through the observation of 169 internet users during the first two years of their internet use (Silverman, 232). The people studied here were given a full psychiatric examination to see how sociable they were. At the end of the study, these people were given another test. The results revealed that in the majority of cases, people who were anti-social at the beginning of the study remained anti-social while those who were sociable remained sociable (232). In some cases, internet use made antisocial people more sociable, leading to the conclusion that the internet does not create anti-social behaviour but "can enhance social communication" (Silverman, 232). The implication here is that the Internet facilitates the development o ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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