The internet has revolutionised how people communicate and how information is transferred. The world has become a smaller place as people no longer have to travel long distances to get an accurate reflection of how people half-way across the world live. Everybody is just a few clicks away from everybody else. Obviously there are some limits, particularly in autocratic states where freedom of speech is not a given, but for most people the internet has facilitated the ability to share information freely with people throughout the globe. Even people in countries with repressive regimes have been able to utilise the internet and global communications to let the world in on what is happening where they are. The internet has therefore helped bring people closer together.
Ordinary individuals no longer have to simply rely on news programmes to tell them what is happening in the world, as they have at their finger tips the ability to do their own research and communicate with people who are actually there. Some websites are clearly more respected than others, and indeed large news agencies such as the BBC are best placed to fund wide-scale news coverage. However, even respected broadcasters have been forced to adapt to accommodate technological developments, so that footage and photographs taken by ordinary citizens are often utilised in news stories reported on the web. People no longer simply consume the news; they are able to shape news coverage and to have their own say on how stories are being reported.
Social networking sites and forums have enabled people from across the globe to come together with a sense of common purpose. Sometimes they might have a common interest, such as trying to limit global warming, and the internet has enabled coordinated action when it comes to campaigns and demonstrations. Forums don’t need to be political, though – they can allow people to find others in the world who have a similar interests to them or maybe a health condition – and to communicate freely and learn about different perspectives and cultures. Chatrooms often serve a similar purpose, allowing people to talk and learn about other people’s society and culture, whilst many relationships have started as a result of online communication, clearly bringing the world together!
Email has also managed to make the world a smaller place, as people no longer have to wait for days or weeks for a letter, and people therefore tend to stay in touch. In fact, the ability to fill in forms online and to do research online has helped bring the world closer, as people consider applying for jobs or to universities that they may not have considered before, even if they are very far away.
The internet has therefore proved instrumental in altering people’s perception of the world and of other populations, as it has enabled greater communication and dialogue between people from different cultures throughout the world.