Then and now; how the internet has changed us in the last 25 years


It is hard to think of how the last 25 years society could have progressed without the influence of the internet. The original intention of using it as a way of
sharing information across networks has slowly been turned into a daily source of cats, hashtags and pictures of meals but its reach across our lives is vast.

For me the most remarkable impact is how this developed our routines and habits which in the 1990’s we would not have dreamed of. As a child the earliest
forms of spam I received were chain letters and libraries were the easiest way to gain access to the internet. Now I can have both of these things by
simply looking at my smart phone first thing in the morning. Of course technology has a lot to answer for with smart phones and tablets constantly pushing
the boundaries of what we can do in the palm of our hand and the horizon bringing devices such as Google glass which look like a revolutionary way of how
we might be moving forward.

But the steady evolution of the internet itself has had a deep impact of how we have changed socially and commercially.

The English language for example has had new additions that have been ratified by the Oxford dictionary with ‘google’, ’blog’, ‘facebook’ being verbs in
their own right and ‘hashtag’ and ‘twitterati’ recognised as valid nouns. The impact of this can be mostly felt in ‘Generation Y’ where it is commonly used
on a daily basis as an almost dialect of its own. Recent years have shown that the tide is starting to turn with the average age steadily increasing on
social media and the age rising in a way that is consistent with those of older generations now getting involved.

The availability of social media networks and the way we are reminded of it daily in media has impacted the way we interact with others. In days gone by
(that I imagine were in black and white and like a hovis advert) in order to contact with others we use to need to call using a telephone, send a letter or
arrange to meet at a specified time or place. It is now possible to instantly connect with our friends and family around the world as we can talk with them
using video calling platforms such as Skype, send them instant messages using Facebook messenger and share our photos and videos of what we’re up to. Our
lives can be backed up for everyone else’s viewing pleasure at a convenient time which means no more of the mind numbing holiday slideshows.

The integration of social media and news has also changed the way we obtain our daily news with celebrities and politicians being quoted using their
twitter feeds and trending hashtags being used as a way of updating the world regarding news events. One of the effects of these trends is that they are a
key data source for marketing strategies as social media being a good way to find out what demographics are interested in and the birth of industries such
as SEO. A testament to this would be the surge of British band Arctic Monkeys stemming from their Myspace following and also the infectious nature of viral
marketing which has cost workplaces around the world countless lost hours.

One of the most regrettable side effects of this, in my opinion, is that gone is age old problem of the pointless arguments where all parties can agree to
disagree. There now has to be closure and having access to fountains of knowledge such as Wikipedia and Google provides this with the downside being that
pub quizzes have now become as competitive as ever with cheats in abundance.

But I feel that the biggest visible change on a day to day basis is the impact of the internet on our spending habits. The rise of websites like Gumtree
and eBay has changed the way we sell our homemade goods and get rid of unwanted items. The car boot sale entrepreneur is now able to advertise to a
nationally and trade with a global marketplace with goods coming from around the world with costs reduced due to the middleman being left out. The effects
of this digital industry are slowly becoming more important to national economies with predictions expecting this only to grow and as a key to recession busting business

We also turn to the internet first to find out the best deals with Amazon often a source of gauging the best price before looking at our High Streets.
Having products being delivered is a desirable aspect to this however high street companies are now fighting back with by offering a ‘click and collect’
option to keep footfall coming through their doors. It is also evident where shopping events have become tradition such as ‘Black Friday’ and the January
sales which has caused pandemonium to department stores now being mirrored online bringing major sites to a standstill due to its overwhelming popularity.

Again the traditional and physical forms of listening to music or watching films has over time evolved into companies such as Netflix and iTunes being the
major providers in an industry which has undergone a facelift in its fight to combat piracy.

These innovations are without a doubt successful and, over the course of the last 25 years revolutionary, benefitting both businesses and customers alike
however there are those of the opinion which feels as though the door has been closed on local businesses, particularly in the UK. The recent trend of
companies such as Groupon and Just Eat are set out to get people in touch with local businesses via the internet and discovering offers in their local
vicinity have paved the way for business start-ups with the focus on bringing the internet back to communities.

It is difficult summarise in a few words the impact of how the internet has revolutionised our daily lives. I certainly don’t feel qualified to talk about
how the majority of this changed has affected my life as I have grown up in a culture where technology is constantly changing the way we are and I have
become accustomed to this. I do often wonder how the next generation, the digital natives, will push this even further forward whilst I can also understand
that it will be in a way I couldn’t foresee today, just as no one would have been able to 25 years ago.

It’s only when we realise how naturally we have picked up things like apps, smart devices and social media and made it an essential part of our lives and
compare that to the moment the first phones with cameras came out and blew our minds to the first moment you can remember using dial up internet, then it
is remarkable how we managed to achieve this in the relatively short space of 25 years.

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