- Internet & the Web
How The Internet Changed My Life (Part 2)
This hub is a continuation of my previous hub, How The Internet Changed My Life (Part 1), where I talked about the early days when internet first came to my life and the many things it offered in the beginning such as chatting and social networking and how it has influence my life and my perspective. In this hub I will share the many things it has continued to offer me since then till the present moment.
While I do not upload youtube videos, this does not mean that its presence didn't change how I view the world. Youtube has had a huge effect for people like me who lives in a developing country since we now have equal access to what everyone else in the world is watching.
What can be accessed in the US and other developed country we can now access it as well! This is something TV channels cannot do, If I want to access CNBC or CNN or HBO I would have to install a satellite dish in my house. Youtube destroyed that boundary. It was like all of a sudden we got shifted from the balcony seats to the VIP seats right in the front to see what was going on. The curtain that separated the economy class and the business class was now open and we could see the latest trends and happenings in the more developed world.
We could see whatever anyone else could see. Prior to the internet and Youtube specifically, it would be impossible for me to keep up with the current trends and happenings in other places. I could get more information on Youtube than on tv news channels. Many times, in fact, I would find out about a particular news on youtube even before it was broadcasted on a news channel. Youtube really made the world flat
If Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien made fun of a current situation in America such as a new advertisement being shown on a local US television channel, or a politician that did something embarrassing, I would never be able to understand what was so funny because I did not know what they were talking about. Thanks to youtube I am now able to see the advertisement they are referring to and straight away understand the joke they were making about it.
Since we are on the subject of youtube, lets not forget how easy it is now for us to be able to learn something new in our lives. Where previously we had to go out there and pay someone to teach us how to cook or play the guitar, we now have youtube videos that can teach us how to do whatever it is we want to learn. All the way from carpentry to origami.
Unfortunately, this has created a generation of people who seem to take everything for granted since it is so easy to get access to all this teachings. Want to learn how to play the guitar? Just access youtube and start looking for guitar lessons. It is hard not to take it for granted. To really learn something we need to get out of our comfort zones.
There is no way a person will ever play like the great Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan by simply watching a youtube video, and try to play for 15 minutes what he/she have just seen. We have to do something more than that. Put in the hours and hours of practice, get to know guitar players around you, communicate with them, arrange a jamming session, etc.
Youtube is a great instrument to learning new things, but provided we have the right attitude. Having access to Youtube does not mean you don't have to do the legwork anymore. You still do, the difference is that it is now so much easier to look for source of information.
Back then, if I, a man living in Indonesia, wanted to learn blues guitar I would first have to locate a blues guitarist in my hometown who is willing to teach me. Do you know how hard it is to find a blues guitarist in 1980s-1990s Jakarta? It is like finding a needle in a haystack. I would have to do a lot of legwork and ask around a lot to locate just one decent guitarist for that. The hardest part of this legwork would be to actually get the permission from my parents for 10 year old me to go out there and hang out with guitarists.
Where previously we had to do legwork just to look for the source of knowledge and after looking for the source we have to do further legwork to implement the knowledge and learn. These are two different legworks.
What has changed is the amount of legwork you had to do to look for the source of knowledge. The legwork needed to learn and master it have not changed a bit, you still need to have discipline and put in the extra hours.
Eric Clapton talked about how he learned to play the guitar back when he was young somewhere in the 1940's or 1950s, his family was poor, so the only way he could learn how to play the guitar was to play it by ear, which means to listen to a tune and try and figure out how to make the same tune by yourself. The legendary guitarist, the late Albert King had to make his own guitar, which he built out of a cigar box, and figure out by himself how to play the instrument!
People sure was tough as steel back then. They didn't have the means and access for formal knowledge so they had to learn it themselves. Whatever knowledge they could get access to they soak it in like dry sponge. They were thankful for it. Being thankful is what makes all the difference. People with a thankful attitude will go a long way with very little.
"Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire."
Smartphones is as close as we have gotten to make the future of Back to the Future a reality. Sure we still don't have cars that can fly or hoverboards, but this little rectangular thing in our pants is definitely futuristic in every sense of the word. The biggest change it brought was it made us have 24 hour access to the internet now.
Prior to smartphones, if we wanted to go online we had to have access to a PC or a laptop that was connected to the internet. Now, however, we can have access to the internet whenever and wherever we are. Sure we had laptops, but we couldn't access the internet with one thumb.
Previously we had to use all of our 10 fingers to type and find things on the internet. Then we decided "no, ten fingers moving about on a keyboard is too much hard work, I don't have the heart to let the next generation go through such agony, we do not want them to come to a miserable world where we need to use all our 10 fingers to find out what the Kardashians are up to.They deserve to know what the Kardashians are up to anytime they want! No one should have to search for a computer and be left behind on the Kardashians!"
So we made smartphones.
There are some great advantages the smartphones have given us, but the disadvantages and cost that comes with it are not less as well.
First, the advantages, thanks to the smartphone I can now do things I never thought of doing. As you all know, smartphones are not just phones. They are a computer, a GPS navigation system, a book reader, a newspaper, a video game console, a music player, a video player, a radio, an alarm clock, a journal, all wrapped into one beautiful design that is sure to make your pants look funny every time it is in your pocket.
The GPS navigation system, particularly Google Maps and Waze, has helped me a lot. There was a time when I had to pay hourly to a driver, since I was not familiar with the roads of another town. I have been using the driver's service for years for my business trip out of town, and it would cost a lot of money. Now, thanks to the GPS feature, I rent a car in whichever town I am in and the GPS would guide me through, Waze even suggests a short cut whenever there is traffic ahead. This has saved me a lot of money and made my life easier.
I am a music buff, I love classic rock, I cannot get enough of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and today's smartphones (I don't want to mention brand and create a war among brand loyalists here) comes with a great music player that you can sync to many other devices such as your PC or MAC, back in the 80s or 90s we couldn't have dreamed of having so much amount of music stored in a device that is slimmer than an audio cassette, let alone slimmer than the walkman it is in!
Another great thing when it comes to music and smartphone is the availability of radio apps such as Tunein, which allows us to listen to so many kinds of radio stations from all over the world. This to me was fascinating. This is like getting access to the holy grail of all the music that is available in the world. Now I can get access to Jazz numbers like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, or Brazilian Bossa Nova. It is fantastic. Prior to the internet it would be impossible for me to find jazz and blues records in Jakarta.
Keeping in touch with people has never been easier. We can now make video calls and send images. This has helped me a lot when it comes to my business which is in the field of textiles. We import out stocks from different countries, being able to email and being able to see textile designs online has made purchasing and importing a lot easier, quicker and more efficient.
Invoice and shipping documents can be emailed in PDF formats, textile designs can be scanned and sent, there are still some limitations such as quality checking and weight of the material, there is no way of finding that out online. We still have to hold and weigh the material by hand, but it doesn't matter and quite frankly we prefer it that way.
Yes, email has been there since the dawn of the internet, but the push email function in our smartphones has allowed us easy, 24 hour access to our email, and for business people which depends on speed of information and timing, this means the world to us.
Whereas before we could only access emails when we have a computer with internet access around, thanks to push email notification we get notified immediately the moment we have receive an email and we can access it directly just like we access SMS in our mobile phones and our colleagues in the office can also view this email from the PC.
What about life before emails? Well, invoices and shipping documents had to be mailed via the post office and it would take weeks for us to receive the shipping documents and invoices. Can youu imagine the difference a few minutes and a few weeks can make?
Now, the disadvantages. While smartphones has helped us a lot in many fields in our lives, it has not helped us in empathy. We are so engrossed in these tiny gadgets, that we loose touch with reality. Before smartphones we could only access the internet via PCs. One good thing about this is the moment we turn off our PC we are back in real life, back to talking, communicating and making eye contact with people we know and love.
Thanks to smartphones, however, many people don't interact. I have noticed many times that even after they turn off their PC, they go and sit with their family and friends, and the first thing they do after they sit is to take out the smartphones from their pockets and start surfing the net again.
They simply sit together with smartphones in their hands and are engrossed by it totally unaware about the people beside them. This is sickening. I can't help but ask myself, when I see a group of friends hanging out together in a public place and do nothing but play with their smartphones, If all you want to do is play with your smartphones, then why even bother hang out with your family and friends? Sit at home and use it until you burn your eyes!
I personally have a love hate relationship with smartphones. While it is incredible in its potential, it has also dealt a huge blow when it comes to human interactions. Stand up comedian, Louis CK, sums this problem up perfectly:
Then again, it all depends from people to people, some are wise enough to realize the potential problem early on and take steps to limit their own usage of smartphones because they value the time spent with family and friends and wouldn't give up that precious time being glued to a gadget. Everything is good if it is done in limit. There is a time for everything.
Here's another terrifying thing that is happening in the world:
With problems like these, we have to ask ourselves, is it worth the risk? Personally, the answer is a deep resounding yes. Surprised?
Well, let me explain. These addiction does not happen because of how great the smartphone is. You can ask any addict, they will tell you that it is not exactly the substance that they are addicted to, it is the feeling the substance brings that they are addicted to. This is a huge difference.
This feeling of having a void inside us that is filled. A feeling of temporary fulfillment. We are after temporary and instant pleasure. If you ask me, Smartphone is just another substance that has the potential to give us instant pleasure and fulfillment. We can abuse this substance just the same way we can abuse alcohol and drugs.
Just because people are getting obese because of eating junk food does not mean McDonald's have to close down. It means people have to start paying more attention to what they eat and how they live.
People are so scared of growing pains, they want to numb it and not feel discomfort. Although deep in our consciousness we know that struggle and pains are essential if we want to have a rich fulfilling life in the future. Ask any body builder what they did after their first day at the gym and the muscles all over their body was aching with pain. They will tell you that they carried on anyway. Pains and fears have to be dealt with, not run away from.
It takes a village to raise a child, but if the whole village is made up of a bunch of smartphone addicts what do you expect the child to be? A child is bound to follow his/her parents.
Like spiderman once said: With great power comes great responsibility.
We are all responsible for the things we create. We are all connected. Just because Steve Jobs created the iPhone does not mean that he should be held accountable for the addiction problem. It is everyone's responsibility to raise a child that is active and smart. Don't succumb to the easy way out by giving your child a smartphone to play with when he/she throws a tantrum. The sooner we realize this the better it will be.
Google is the holy grail of information. I do not know that much about google, I do not know how to have your blog appear on the first pages of Google, or about SEO or Google Analytics. What I do know is the fact that it is one awesome search engine that always manages to find EXACTLY what I am looking for on the first page. How they do that is beyond my imagination, and I don't want to google about how Google does that, because somethings are better of remaining a mystery and keep us in awe.
The ease of searching for information on Google itself is already life. My wife is currently pregnant with our first child, and like all pregnant women, she also goes through many unexplained feelings, discomfort and changes. Some of them I get confused about. Thanks to Google I can now find out what it is she is feeling and whether it is normal or is it something we should be cautious about and contact our OBGYN immediately. It has also help us figure out what foods and drinks to avoid while pregnant and what is beneficial to consume.
This of course does not mean that it will replace our OBGYN and the wisdom of our parents. I am fortunate that my wife is in the hands of an excellent OBGYN and I have parents and in laws that are willing to guide both of us anytime we need them to. What Google helps us in is when they are not available and we need to find out what to do.
It has also come to my knowledge that Google has helped many people earn money through their Adsense program. I personally, have had little (US$0.53 earned on hubpages so far as of this writing, little) or no experience when it comes to earning from Google Adsense, but from what I have understood is that this has create great opportunities for so many hard working and dedicated people in need of a job or trying their best to make ends meet in their household. Google has given them a chance they would never have gotten otherwise.
This is Just The Beginning
The internet has no doubt revolutionized the way we are living. I personally, cannot imagine how my life would be like if internet does not exist. I am very thankful for all the knowledge and friends that I have gathered over the years, some of which I still keep in touch with and have even become real life friends.
However, I have realized that this is just the beginning when it comes the internet, there is no telling what is next. The internet at this stage is still very much like the Wild West of our era. Very volatile and can change in just an instant.
In some ways, I have realized that the internet is like another society we are living in, we have been given a second chance to create a better society, and to not repeat the same mistakes on the internet which we have made in our real day to day lives.
While it is true that our lives has changed due to the internet, it is also true the other way around. That the internet has changed because of our lives as well. It is a great tool to spread our love and joy to this world.
The internet is a reflection of what we are. For once in the life of mankind, we have access to a tool that allows our voice to spread all over the world. Before the internet, only the select few of this world had the power to be heard all over the world, but now we too have it, and it is in our hands whether we want to spread good or bad.
My wife just informed me that the baby is kicking, time to sign out and go back to the real world.