The internet is an incredibly useful resource. You can answer a question in seconds, book a flight to anywhere in the world or play chess with someone from the other side of the globe, all from the comfort of your living room. However, the internet also presents very real dangers. Online dating sites and chat rooms make it easy for predators to find victims, phishing scams trick people into giving away their life savings and children can come across inappropriate material far too easily. Then again, life before the internet was not devoid of problems. Predators still found victims, chain letters and other forms of scams still managed to swindle people out of their money and children could still be exposed to filth. Instead of creating these problems, it would seem the internet is guilty of making it easier for them to happen. Itâ€™s also possible that the frequency of these problems has not increased, but that the wealth of information we now enjoy makes it appear that the problems are more frequent than before.
40,000 people die in the US every year because of car accidents, in spite of dozens of safety measures. Maybe the government should shut down the internet, or barricade all the highways and close all the car factories. You probably find that suggestion utterly absurd, but there are some people who would prefer it that way. After all, it would save the lives of 40,000 people a year, make it harder for predators to find victims and maybe even put the Nigerian scammers out of business. The problem with such an action is that the incredible utility of these technologies outweighs the negatives to such a degree that society as a whole is willing to put up with the bad, even at a significant cost, to get the good. In spite of its vast reach and growth, the internet is still in its infancy, and just like many other early technologies, it has significant flaws. Itâ€™s very likely that those flaws can be mitigated over time, and the internet, which provides access to information with such ease, is the perfect vehicle to do it. The internet can be used to share information about its own dangers. As we learn how to avoid them, fewer people will be willing to send a few thousand dollars to a supposedly wealthy Nigerian, or to give their personal information to a stranger in a chat room. Like the car, there will always be dangers associated with the internet, but by following safety guidelines, the likelihood of getting hurt will be significantly decreased and weâ€™ll all be able to continue enjoying the wonders of the internet.