Has the Internet become a negative force for personal well-being?

Right after Netscape launched, I had the privilege of having dinner with its first CEO, Jim Barksdale. This dinner took place around 1995, when most of the world had yet to discover the Internet. Netscape was created by Marc Andreessen and was based on software he created called Mosaic, which was the first browser for the Internet.

Netscape’s goal was to commercialize the Internet and introduce Internet 1.0, then as a read-only format. This spawned Internet 2.0, which became a more interactive Internet that would allow reading and writing instead of read-only.

I vividly remember that dinner with Mr. Barksdale, as it was my first glimpse into the future of interactive cloud-centric computing. Until then, the PC was mainly driven by local software. With the exception of online e-mail transmissions, computing was primarily a localized experience.

Since then, the Internet has exploded and become the essential technology that drives our cloud-based computing world today. It has become a free medium for everyone, e-commerce, social media, content creation, virtual protests and harmful things like cybercrime and new cyber threats that threaten us daily.

I recently saw an anonymous tweet, “The Internet was an escape from reality. Now reality is an escape from the Internet”. This feeling made me wonder if Mr. Andreessen and Mr. Barksdale had any idea of ​​the negative impact the Internet could have on us when they created Netscape and unleashed a global medium for good and evil. .

Although the Internet has been an important force in driving a new world of information distribution, e-commerce, job creation and wealth creation, it has also given birth to social media, affecting people’s well-being. It does this by allowing misinformation. Almost anything goes with opinions and seems to bring out emotions in some that impact how they feel when confronted with offensive content information, statements that contradict science and, in some cases, serious emotional distress.

This view was echoed recently when former President Barack Obama spoke at Stanford University and offered one of his strongest critiques of the technology, which he said: “ffostered discord and misinformation at the expense of democracy.According to MSNBC, “he used his enormous influence to advise the public to think proactively about technology, not just as consumers, but also as citizens, and not undermine democracy.”

President Obama’s concern about citizens’ desperation to interact on social media has personally struck a chord.

When Facebook and Twitter were first introduced, I jumped on those platforms and first liked them. However, around 2014, I noticed that both social media platforms were getting darker. I started seeing hate speech, anti-science views, and more negative content posted every day. As the 2016 presidential election approached, it forced Facebook and Twitter to add more people and tools to moderate permitted content on their sites to combat the negative impact their sites had on people’s lives. people.

In my case, it led me to alter the way I use and consume social media to keep my mental psyche even-tempered. I can no longer trust Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to moderate content for me, so I moderate my social media content myself.

Facebook is now mainly used to maintain contact with my family and friends. Therefore, I do not subscribe to political sites and try to stay tuned to newsworthy content that presents factual information and documented, informed opinions.

Although I always use Twitter for the latest news, I try to stay away from biased news sources and biased content as much as possible. When it comes to YouTube and TikTok, I lean towards entertaining content and shopping information sites viewed during downtime.

I share President Obama’s concern about the impact of tech companies on democracy and how people with biased views permeate much of social media and cause real distress to some. However, I believe personal content moderation should become the primary way people manage their social media to avoid negative impacts on their lives.

I realize the Internet is not going away and will continue to be a medium for good and evil. However, as tech companies attempt to moderate and manage their content more proactively, it’s becoming clear that there’s still more to be done. For example, suppose a person wants, as President Obama suggests, to stay away from the “fatalistic despair” caused by their use of technology and social media. In this case, self-moderation should be a big part of technology-based content management.