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The Worldwide Web is 30 Years Old

It has been some thirty years since people began using the Internet through the Worldwide Web, www.

I first saw the Internet at a research center in the 1980s. At that time, It was used to exchange scientific documents in text form between universities, government contractors and research facilities. There was no general public access.

When the worldwide web was introduced, one intention was for people of divergent believes and backgrounds to have a place to exchange ideas in an electronic town hall meeting so that everyone could better understand how other people felt to foster respect and find solutions to problems built from these exchanges. It still offers that ability, as well as the opportunity to keep up with family and friends, and to learn new things.

Yet, much of the chatter has fallen into commercial advertising with people trying to sell some product and service. In Facebook groups about writing, I have seen thoughtful answers to questions posed by members. Many of these answers have helped me. I have also seen replies in which someone is just trying to sell a service without any helpful suggestions at all.

The Internet has also spawned groups and communities whose members are closed to any opinion that they do not agree with. These people are not willing to listen to facts or opinions that contradict their stickily held beliefs. Some of these people demand quick, simple answers to complex questions and the answer they want to hear is, “It will all be taken care of if you follow these easy steps.”

The truth is, we face many complex issues and different people have pieces of the answers. Unfortunate, there are those who only listen to one politician, one religious leader or one celebrity who they believe to have all the answers, even when they don’t.

This does not have to be the case. All of us, every human being, has the capacity to think critically and understand things, even complex ideas. Some people have expert knowledge in particular areas and others have the temperament to see things in a specific way. Still, given time and effort, we can all use our brains to comprehend intricate concepts.

Like a knife that can be used to cut fruit for a salad or to injure someone, the Internet is neither angel nor demon. It is our actions that determine if it is a tool to help ourselves and others or a wall to cut us off possibilities we want to avoid.


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