Unless you've been under a rock, you're somewhat up to speed on the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke story. You have an opinion and, odds are pretty good, that opinion was formed by something you read on the Internet.
However, have you noticed how many different opinions and versions of the story there are?
I was pretty vocal myself. Heck, I'm on the Internet and I've never been one for censoring myself, so there I was opining away and feeling, what I felt was, justifiably angry. But then, so were all the other people, and some of their opinions and -- more importantly -- information were markedly different than mine.
So, what does "using the Internet" have to do with this?
Well, when I first saw what Rush was saying, I wanted to know why he was calling this woman a "slut" and a "prostitute". Why was he saying that she was asking for her sex life to be subsidized and where? I had his side of the issue. It was right there in video and accessible. It was in the news story that popped up. His comments, his opinion. The story even mentioned that he was talking about a girl named Sandra Fluke who had testified before Congress.
That was pretty much it. If I had stopped there, I'd be "informed". In the basic sense, I'd have information. I could form an opinion off that.
But I had a feeling there was more to it and so I cracked a Google search and entered the words "Sandra Fluke Testimony".
What I read and what I did from there isn't really the point of the post. If you read my tweets, you likely know where I fell on the issue.
The point is actually the search itself and why I think that many people have been using the Internet so much that they've forgotten how to use the Internet.
The Internet was created as a research and networking tool. It was created by the DoD in 1969 as ARPAnet and used by 4 major universities to consolidate information for easy access by researchers across multiple locations. *
The Internet, at it's base, is a research and networking tool.
However, in this day and age. In an age of Twitter and Facebook. In the days of "instant" news and ad revenue based on page hits, it seems like the "research" aspect of using the Internet has been pushed further and further to the back burner for most daily users.
Facebook is filled with comments that have a "like" button. It's opinion on opinion. Tweets fly by and we aggregate links in readers and scroll through them. Blog posts and news stories side by side. News and opinion flashing by as part of a continuing stream of information.
Ask yourself. When you read something and find yourself reacting to it, do you accept it as fact? Do you react first, speak next and possibly skip the research aspect?
I know I do sometimes and I'm sure other people do. I also know plenty of people still research information and take pretty much everything they read on the Internet with a healthy grain of salt.
Still, it's the general user I'm thinking about here and curious about. The young ladies who tweet things like "Chris Brown can beat me any time". Or the people arguing with me that Sandra Fluke is asking the tax payer to pay for her sexual activities. Or the people who say President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim.
For many, the Internet has become a broadcasting tool and nothing more. It has become just another media to consume and, as such, is regarded as static and infallible.
Really, though, the Internet is the same thing it's ever been. A consolidation of information and data. Networked together for multiple users.
But is the Internet being used the way it was meant to be used? I don't think so and, personally, I think that's too bad.
* Internet History links:
Birth of the Internet - Yahoo.com
Birth of the Internet - PBS.org