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The Internet, Harmful Weapon or Helpful Tool?
by Caitlin Dea
Not For Sale
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The internet is a vast web of information with infinite possibilities. It has been debated as a source of evil to its users, but the total extermination of the internet would never be considered by the average person. Still, whether the benefits out way the harms, is commonly discussed. It appears to some that even as great a tool as the farmer's sickle is, in turn, also a great weapon. But cannot weapons also be used for good and not only evil? In the situation of the internet, the good is far stronger than the evil. The internet has influenced society for the better because it has informed people about news outside their immediate area, made it easier for people to learn outside of school, and introduced the spread of new ideas.

In a world with international crisis and war, the internet has proved a most useful tool. News is not only reported on the television but on the internet as well. Reporters can get information out faster than ever and do not have to rely upon the slow postal system. There are various internet news feeds on Haiti, Japan, and other countries under disaster circumstances. These sources help the world to know what is going on in lands that are miles away. Also, the internet makes larger countries feel more united within themselves. Emails can be sent in a flash and videos can be shared in minutes. The cost of a long distance phone call or a care package to a friend discourages the majority of society to use these means of communication. Social networking sites have enabled families and friends to be reunited though oceans apart. There are a few websites like www.myheritage.com which specialize in strengthening the bond of separated families. Without the internet, the spirit of the people would be separated by the chains of the physical land and seas. That weapon called the internet has broken the chains of separation, but has also been a tool in repairing the bonds of family and county. Because the average person can see the world without leaving his living room, people can become more knowledgeable about subjects that their local schools would not be able to educate them in.

In the working adult world, the past education and degrees of an individual is very important. For many, the college years were either robbed or brushed aside due to stress, family tragedy, or financial instability. Once these years of learning have left, it is very hard for the adult to go back to school and learn while maintaining a job at the same time. How then can one increase his/her job skills and better the future? Online colleges like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University offer courses that can be taken right at home. These programs leave the student with a degree without the stress of rushing to class. Opportunities for new parents and full time workers are presented through these online universities. For the self-taught learner, these are the tools which expand minds. As the average person becomes more well rounded in their fundamental education, they can then move on to apply these ideas in the real world. A general knowledge of first aid can be easily turned into a working knowledge which may save someone's life. The study of computer programming changes from a general knowledge to working knowledge which produces an application. As the pattern repeats with “learning” and “applying” people broaden their knowledge. When the knowledge of a subject is increased, new ideas are born. Once these new concepts are shared, they change the world .

An idea, like a small spark, must be fanned and given attention to become a flame. The internet in itself is a mighty wind that transforms the small spark of an idea into an unstoppable wildfire.
Companies, products, and even individuals have become “internet sensations” in a matter of days. Scientists can share their findings with other colleagues and, by doing so publicly, with the world as well. With news feeds, blogs, micro-blogs, and forums, communities can be informed about groundbreaking research and discoveries. Social networks like LinkedIn help employees to keep in touch with their former co-workers.“Over 100 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities.”1 With networks like these we realize “relationships” really do “matter.” With the internet to fuel the flames of an idea, society can begin to make more technological and social advancements.

If the internet is so wonderful, why then do harmful things such as pornography, credit card theft, and sexual predators come from this vast open plain? With the internet comes knowledge, ideas, and information. The “world wide web” freely gives these essential tools to everyone, but as the saying goes, “With much much power comes much responsibility.” A tool in itself is not evil nor is it corrupt. A sickle does not walk around and murder people, but rather, the person behind the sickle is responsible for any harm which the sickle brings. When a person uses the sickle for its intended use (to harvest grain) everyone prospers. In the same way, if a person uses the internet for its proper purpose (to spread knowledge, ideas, and information) society will also benefit. The internet can be made safer by placing restrictions on the people who abuse it. Instead of finding ways to make the internet safer, some wish to get rid of it altogether. Abolishing the internet would be like banning the wheel from society. Yes, sickles are very sharp and the internet is a somewhat unprotected field, but people should acknowledge this then move forward using these tools even more carefully.

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