The internet has transformed our lives, and when compared to other world-altering advancements, it’s done it quickly. In the space of around 30 years, the internet has gone from a technology that was out of reach to most people and transformed into something that is basically vital for everyday life. We shop, bank, learn and even watch TV online. It’s hard to imagine life without the internet these days, but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, people were sceptical about its potential when it was first introduced.
With that in mind, let’s look at the top 10 ways the internet has changed the world forever.
The internet has made global communication instantaneous, efficient, personal and accessible.
When you think about it, the world has become a much smaller place thanks to the internet even though it is so much more open now. Communication has been revolutionised by the internet and we now have access to information from all over the world in an instant through email, social media and other online tools. Need to reach someone in another country regarding a business matter? No problem, email, messaging and online platforms make it simple.
It’s not just global communication that’s been transformed though. Even local communication is drastically improved thanks to the internet (in conjunction with smartphones). Many people would remember a time not long ago when you had to contact people by landline telephone. If they weren’t home, you simply couldn’t reach them. While many people may enjoy a return to that way of life, this added connectivity has improved safety, security and so many other aspects of modern life.
E-commerce represents a huge shift in the way we consume products and services. It’s growing rapidly, and it’s convenient for users. Online shopping is accessible to everyone, has the potential to drive prices down, and allows a greater variety of products to hit the marketplace.
The beauty of E-commerce is the convenience factor. You can find exactly what you’re looking for in no time, which means more time spent doing things that matter. From the early days of eBay to the modern world where almost every retailer has products available online, we’ve got the internet to thank every time we can stay at home and order online instead of going out in the cold!
The rise of E-commerce has also changed the business landscape in general. Indeed, with so many businesses now vying for a share of the online shopping marketplace, online marketing has become a booming industry. It’s not just e-Commerce though. As humans, we use search engines like Google for everything. This means even local brick-and-mortar businesses need to have an online presence and must make themselves easy to find.
Digital marketing is an ever-evolving business, but it’s an entire industry that wouldn’t exist without the internet.
When the internet became available for more mainstream applications, communication was practically the first thing it could be widely used for. People could find online penpals and write to them using the earliest forms of email. Then, people could connect with people all around the world using chat rooms and services like ICQ and MSN Messenger. Then came Myspace, which is often recognised as the first real instance of social media taking the world by storm.
However, the biggest changes were still to come thanks to Facebook. This program got everybody interested – not just tech heads and the younger generation, but parents, grandparents and anybody you can think of. This spawned a whole range of variations such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and more. Social media is now as much about marketing as it is about connecting with friends, and is one of the biggest factors in getting everybody engaged with the internet.
Online banking and investing
Remember filling out a little booklet and depositing your money at the bank? Or going to a teller to withdraw money? People even used to pay bills by cheque. Those times have changed drastically thanks to the internet, which has rapidly transformed the entire financial services industry. The internet allows us to complete online transactions, pay for things with our phones instead of bank cards, access stock and trading platforms and more. Plus, while it is still yet to be proven whether it will be a long-term financial solution, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are two massive changes we’ve got the internet to thank for.
Many people always found their jobs through signs on a business’s front door, or perhaps in the Saturday newspaper careers section. It was a long and laborious task to apply for jobs, and even more complicated for employers trying to hire staff. The internet has changed that forever, with online technology making it simple to find and apply for jobs almost at the click of a button.
In addition, professional social platforms such as LinkedIn are very focused on employment opportunities. However, it’s not just the process of applying for jobs that has changed. The internet has created entire industries, new career pathways and even ways for people to work remotely for themselves as freelancers.
Video streaming and sharing
Who can remember the days of checking the TV guide to see what was on your limited TV stations at any given time? It’s hard to remember now, but once upon a time, we viewed content when TV networks broadcast it. Or we’d have to go and hire or buy DVDs (or VHS tapes, for the more advanced readers). Today, we can stream and enjoy music, TV shows, live sport, movies and so much more on demand. Now, we watch what we please, when we want, and all at the click of a button.
It’s important to note that improvements in internet technology speed are responsible for this. We definitely wouldn’t stream this much content on old dial-up or ADSL internet connections. Fortunately, the internet also makes it easy to compare NBN plans and find the best connection for your needs. So yes, the internet itself even makes it easier for you to get the best internet service.
Access to services such as healthcare
The Internet has made it easier to access healthcare services from the comfort of your own home. In fact, people can seek treatment for serious illnesses that previously would have required them to travel long distances and wait for hours in a hospital or clinic. For many people, especially those in remote locations, access to online healthcare services and even resources have been life-saving, all thanks to the internet.
Online education and learning platforms
The world of education has changed drastically since the advent of the internet. And aren’t we lucky it has? During the Covid-19 pandemic when many schools were closed, children were able to maintain their education through online learning systems. Without this technology, children would potentially have missed a year or more of schooling during this time.
Aside from schools using the internet to enhance learning programs, more people can study for university degrees and earn qualifications by distance. As such, the internet makes all types of learning more accessible to more people.
Finally, and perhaps even the most common way that the internet has changed modern life is through research. The way we learn about things or access information has changed so much now. Previously, lucky people who owned a set of encyclopedias could look up information, but everybody else would need to head to the library if they wanted to learn anything.
Today, we jump on Google and basically find the solutions to all of life’s problems. We search for local food options, travel destinations, research businesses, access our news and learn everything we need to know online. With this, of course, comes a lot of conflicting information too, so while it’s great to access so much information, we still need to filter out what’s true and what’s not.
There is no doubt that the internet has drastically changed our lives. Almost everything about modern life is impacted by the internet in some way. From the examples above to the daily things we take for granted, the internet has arguably been the biggest world-changing technology of most of our lifetimes.