The internet has the potential to share anything with anyone.
Intuitively this would mean that it brings us closer together. Yeah? Does it?
The point is that the internet is location-independent and time-independent. This means that it brings people closer together without regarding location and time. Consequently, people that are physically close to each other grow apart because people's beliefs grow towards other places and times. The problem with this is that people that are physically close to each other become different from each other.
In the end, it will all stabilize, as we slowly get used to the internet, but we should now focus on the problems this gives us: People that are close to each other don’t understand each other anymore. Families are in the same place, but their minds are all somewhere else: On the internet, all we see is echo chambers of our own thoughts through the confirmation bias.
People must have a balance between talking to the internet and talking to their relatives and friends. When this balance goes too much towards the internet, relatives and friends will stop communicating because they are now so different and relationships will fall apart. When this balance goes too much towards relatives and friends, you won’t become smarter than the rest.
Recently I had a conversation with Will Bennis, a cultural psychologist, and cognitive anthropologist, running a very nice co-working space called Locus in Prague.
"In recent centuries we've become more individualistic. There's a lot of research suggesting that in Eastern cultures, people have a stronger community orientation than in Western countries, but this trend toward stronger individualism--and weaker community ties--is happening all over the planet as cities and countries around the world become more industrialized and wealthy." - Will Bennis
We talked about the rise of technology and internet, and how this would apply to this (and how it could have influenced it). What do you think? Technology and the internet make us more mobile, but being more mobile makes us less connected to the people around us, thus more individualistic. And being on the internet is in some sense the ultimate mobility, as you can be everywhere, instantly... Well, not physically, but mentally.
The internet is more powerful than most people think
The internet isn't limited to disconnecting the connected and connecting the disconnected. As I wrote in these two posts, it also scatters attention and focus, makes us notification-zombies and does many more things. The mediums we use for communication decide how we think and how we behave. Read more about it in this fascinating book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Mark Zuckerberg recently made up a new mission statement for his company: "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." I think this is a great mission and this also is what I wish to do with my company Travel Life Movement. It is nice to create ways for technology to bring us back together. It would be nice if the same internet that drove connected people apart can also be used to bring them back together.
Why not? With technology, almost everything is possible. We just have to decide what we want to do with it!