Aric's First Final Draft

Imagine a college campus 20 years from now that doesn’t have a single textbook, the library is only big because there needs to be room for computers, and students go to class, laptop in hand, just to see their teacher on the projector screen teaching from home, in London. This scenario might seem crazy, and it very well might be, but kids in the ‘50s probably would have looked at today’s campus and wonder, what happened? The Internet has allowed us to create a diverse campus in culture and in thought. What do we have now that we would wish away?

The Internet has allowed us to expand our horizons in every field of knowledge. We wake up in the morning; some of us check ESPN to find out who won which game, or which player got injured in last night’s game. Some of us wake up and check the news online and then proceed to find out what the weather is in Nashville, or Cancun, where you are hoping to be during spring break. We get home after school or work and surf the web, we find out that they are developing a new bomb that can go through 200 feet of earth or that scientists have concluded a study telling us that a third of women are making more than their spouses - haven’t figured out how this works in lesbian relationships. The information received through the Internet is all different and uses different sensory perceptions to spread information. The news is sound clips, pictures/cartoons, words, and videos. Information is passed from one person to another, from those in the know to those who want to know or just happen to cross that web address.

Academically, the Internet is allowing us to participate more in class than ever before –like the example from the beginning of this essay or in terms of finding out what happened for your history class or how to graph a marginal utility curve for your economics class. Sites like Cliff’s Notes and Spark Notes help to understand the basic story of a book that you did not quite understand the first time through. Wikipedia gives you basic information in the form of an encyclopedia entry to find out what a tiger eats, its distribution across the globe, or what kinds there are. These websites are focused on giving general information about a variety of topics for a price or for free. For more specific information, there are websites like Google to sift through all the websites pertaining to keywords, or Yahoo answers, that allows you to ask a question and people who know the answer to post about it, or academic journal search engines like CQ Press that allow you to find journal articles related to keywords from professionals in their fields. More specifically, the Internet has allowed us to have joint writing assignments on online wiki sites, or post our writing assignments online, so that our peers can review them, comment on them and add suggestions, all while never having to talk to the person in class.

Socially the Internet has given us a tool to communicate way beyond letters and phone calls. The Internet has given rise to Facebook, MySpace, and Xanga, along with all kinds of blogs and forums all meant to discuss things from cooking ( to rating teachers ( Facebook is the prime example of social connectivity, with chat, private/public message, pictures, event planning, birthday notifications, and video options all meant to allow you to get out your message. The converse use is to find out what is going on, find out who is doing what, who is dating who, or who is talking to whom. All of this allows people to in real time receive and send information, basically recording a part of their life or catching a glimpse of someone else’s.

On campus, social networking sites have allowed for increased involvement in school events like Alterative Spring Break, or Greek events like Barbarians and Librarians, or fundraisers like Dance Marathon or AOII Live. The suite parties with mass texts being sent out or mass Facebook messages. Being an out of state transfer, the Internet has affected my university experience by allowing communication with former classmates at the University of Arkansas, my previous school, co-workers from my jobs back in my hometown, or friends from one of my many activities during my high school years. I use the Internet to talk to all of these people because sometimes an old friend is the only one who can help understand a certain problem or gives you someone to talk to about life. Admittedly it is hard to equate the need for social interaction into the enhancing of academic learning, at college, but sometimes the more important lessons in college are ones that we learn outside of college, and a tool that promotes social activity cannot hurt the learning that takes place in college.

As for most things there are aspects of the Internet that have hurt us as individuals and as a society. Anonymous personalities on blogs have led us to write things that we never would have said before. The whole language of the Internet has lead people to write racist, sexist, and other types of discriminatory language when disagreeing with people. Tearing down honest arguments by introducing end statements like “you’re a racist” instead of actually having to make a valid claim against a writer’s comment or statement. This anonymity has allowed people to show what Freud would call a person’s id, the part of the brain that seeks selfishness. The Internet creation of a virtual world has allowed pedophiles to prey on children online, or stalkers to find out personal information about people that people wouldn’t knowingly tell them, like their phone number or home address. The Virtual World of the Internet has allowed people to become sucked into games, that offer them escape from their lives, but creates anti-social behavior that makes the person become a stoner and can lead to laziness in other parts of their lives to get back to their game. Along with creating social behavioral problems the Internet has created a new wave of academic honesty. Students can buy papers on a range of subjects or sift through piles of information to take ideas from authors of articles and claim them as their own, without anyone knowing the better.

These problems that have sprung from the Internet are just high-tech versions of old societal problems. If we remember about a time before Internet we still had stalkers, pedophiles, addictions, bigotry, and loners. The Internet, which increases visibility and social connections for events and academics, has the same affect on our problems in society by making them more visible. In some ways the Internet has helped society with these problems by creating awareness of the problems; we have begun to fix things like trying to get loners more involved in activities at school, spreading information about equality to people who were bigots because of misinformation from parents, friends, or their community, or creating websites of convicted sex offenders so that people are aware of their communities.

The Internet has created a way to take what we already had in our society and let everyone add their own personality and culture to it. One of the best examples of this is in music. Music is normally something that is regional, and before the Internet was passed on through hard copies of music (CDs, tapes, records). This is how rap spread from Harlem in New York to major hubs each introducing their own regional takes. The Internet has created a way for the spreading of music to go faster, without the need for physical transfer of music, which has allowed what were once regional sounds to be heard over the Internet and for people to take the style or format and make it their own. Music is only the most visible form of cultural injection with many fads spreading because of the Internet, and why we see new hair and clothing styles, new styles of writing stories and poems, and new ways of creating art.

Just as the university has been a playground for new ideas and spreading of culture, the Internet has become just that for the world society. By allowing free flow of ideas, culture, and business, the countries of the world are becoming more reliant on their fellow nations. This reliance on each other allows for the world to take collective attempts at solving bigger problems like AIDS, poverty, lack of education, slavery, and equality, among many other science and socioeconomic problems. This global interaction has prevented some wars from being fought on a large scale or over frivolous things, because one country buys the other’s goods or their individuals share culture and thoughts with a neighbor country.

The connections that are created from spreading of culture, the visibility of problems, and the collaborative efforts of people across the world in solving problems together are then turned and shown in smaller parts of society. By increasing Internet access on campus, we take the ideology of a university, to develop a student in the broadest terms, and introduce it into this melting pot of ideas that the Internet has created. The future university would be able to help diversify a student through this increased pool of knowledge, but in order to discourage the negative effects of the Internet, could increase awareness of academic dishonesty and show students that the consequences outweigh the gain from cheating. Also the future university could implement programs to make sure that kids are social, like Vanderbilt’s program of having the freshmen meet each other and do activities when they get to Vanderbilt, as well as requiring that students be in a certain number of activities, such as athletics, services groups, or competitive groups like Model UN. By requiring students to get involved in organizations it will help the university in recruiting and offsetting the effects that sitting in front of a computer by oneself would create.

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