The online world creates a virtual connection between people. It allows us to more efficiently gather news about family, friends, acquaintances, celebrities and so on. The virtual connection inspires many fantasies and fools people into believing they know much more than they know. It provides a way for people to connect with many more people than they can in person.
For shy people, the online world creates a safer way to reach out and get to know more people. It helps find people who appear to be like you much more quickly. It makes a lot of people feel less alone.
The online world makes it a lot easier to gather information that is useful in our lives. We can find the cheapest place to buy something. We can find health information that saves our lives. We can find employment or business opportunities we would probably never find if there were no internet. I have been utilising internet for my need as much as possible too.
Drawbacks of the Online World
Unfortunately, because people value online relationships so much, they take the online world very seriously, which gives others a new way to bully people, con them, steal their money, and otherwise hurt people — only much more efficiently. Also, some people have a hard time understanding the difference between the virtual world and the real world. Because there is much less complete information about others in the virtual world, but it seems like there is more information, many people can be fooled into thinking they know things that aren’t true, and this leaves them much more vulnerable to being deceived.
Despite the access to more information, the online world also leaves out a lot of information that most of us use on a daily basis without being aware of it. Most people do not realise how much information their brains assume based on the information we gather online. We make all kinds of assumptions, which I think it is fair to call fantasies about the meaning of online events. This is particularly true when we meet people online, and come to think we know them well. We have no idea how much we don’t know and how relevant that information is. The online world makes us feel as if we know others, but if we are unaware that this feeling may not reflect reality, we are much more vulnerable.
People can create fake news. They can use counterfeit avatars and fake personalities quite easily on the internet. There are many ways to deliberately or inadvertently make things seem different than they are. It is easier to fool people online because without seeing the way people behave in a variety of contexts, it is hard to be able to verify what people say about themselves.
The characteristics of the way our brains function make this difficult to detect. Our brains automatically fill in pictures for which we only have a few verified data points. Our minds do this in a way that is difficult to be aware of. Mostly, we are fooling ourselves. Our desire to connect with others, together with the absence of real-world data and the propensity to automatically fill in details that don’t exist in the real world makes the internet a dangerous place for the credulous. Because few people see this, it is easy to like being online. Being online is like eating a candy bar instead of a lot of protein. We get a sugar rush and forget that this will not last until suddenly we bonk, running out of energy.