Whereas adult obesity rates have always been present, they have never been so high. What is more worrisome is that youth is becoming increasingly obese. The American Heart & Stroke Association conducted a study, for instance, in which it found the following data to be true:
"Among children ages 2 -- 19, about 1 in 3 are overweight and obese (BMI-for-age at or above the 85th percentile of the 2000 CDC growth charts.):
- 32.1% of all boys, and - 31.3% of all girls, and Among children ages 2 -- 19, about 1 in 6 are obese (BMI-for-age at or above e 95th percentile of the CDC growth charts.):
- 17.8% of all boys, and - 15.9% of all girls."
With the aid of the internet, staying home has become much easier and just as mind stimulating as actual human interaction. The most prevalent example of such instances is the ease through which the Internet has made ordering food to be delivered, rather than going to a restaurant and enjoying a meal there with friends or family. The ease of orders has also contributed to the above-mentioned obesity statistics. The ordering process takes only a few moments, and has made restaurants extremely happy, as they are able to take far more orders this way, but again, this contributes to the sedentary lifestyle that Americans have adopted.
Safety of financial and personal information is another problem that has blown open as millions of credit card numbers have been stolen from credible businesses. Sony, a tech giant that seemed unstoppable through the 1980s and 1990s, was hacked, an act which revealed all of its PlayStation users' credit card data in 2011.
This disruption brought down the network for six weeks and greatly injured Sony's reputation for safety and privacy. Countless more cases of consumer credit card theft have taken place over the past decade, and it is incredibly difficult for authorities to find the hackers who are committing this sort of fraud.
The threat of cyber terrorism or cyber warfare, whether it is non-state actors or an actual states going to war with the United States over the Internet space, has worried the United States intelligence community enough to invest millions of dollars into security measures. Cyber wars are truly a major threat, as evidenced by the many books written on the topic as well. One author, Richard Clarke, lays out an important thesis in his book, Cyber War, and states that there have actually been many instances in which these kinds of attacks took place. Among them are the Estonia attacks of 2007, for instance, on which the author focuses by elucidating the fact that such 'attacks' are meant to enhance conventional warfare, and further offers detailed discussions on American policies on such warfare, as well as development, such as those mentioned above, that are meant to curb the effects of cyber attacks.
Perhaps one of the most frightening examples of how the Internet makes everyone vulnerable is Operation Aurora. This 'hack attack' originating from mainland China sought to steal source code from Google, Adobe and "dozens of other high-profile companies" and "used unprecedented tactics that combined encryption, stealth programming and an unknown hole in Internet Explorer."
Even the anti-virus firm McAfee was shocked at how sophisticated the attack actually was, and how much intellectual property the hackers were able to steal. While this section has provided much evidence against the freedoms that the Internet offers, the subsequent section will offer some counterarguments to all the above information.
Firstly, as aforementioned, it is clear that the Internet has made people more aware of their friends past and present as well as made global communication a ubiquitous occurrence. Once upon a time, the telephone was the only mode of communication between individuals, but now with such applications as Facebook, friendships can flourish and pictures can be seen between friends and family in a much easier style than via the showing of slides. Relatives from across the globe can keep in contact daily, if not hourly, and relationships between strangers can flourish in business environments and otherwise. Educationally speaking, the internet has allowed for countless opportunities, such as various programs of online learning, which help individuals become better acquainted with the environments in which they live, and also which allows more and more people to attain the kinds of lifestyles that they wish.
Politically speaking, the Internet has been tremendously successful in spreading the best qualities of Capitalism and Democracy around the world, most recently present in the Middle East. The protests in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen all depose the longtime dictators, and a more representative government has taken their place. The youth of the world have embraced wireless technology and the Internet in ways in which their parents could never have dreamed.
Reporting has also been improved as a result of smartphone technology, as video footage of events in motion, as well as pictures and testimonials have all contributed to the free speaking idealists present around the world. Despite the fact that a small minority terrorist groups are given speakerphones due to the Internet, the vast majority of people in the world have also been given similar speakerphones, and the oppressed are now able to reveal their problems instantly, which has contributed to great changes in the world, both politically and socially.
Issues such as various genocide-like events can now be seen by the world, and can be counteracted by fast-acting political measures, with the West thereby often ensuring, through its involvement, that horrendous events and such large scale events as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide will never again take place.
The use of smartphones has helped people be aware of basic information that they need to know, such as maps and GPS guidance systems. Getting lost used to be a commonplace occurrence in the days before smartphones. Every vehicle needed to have a paper foldout map in order to best guide the driver. Now that smartphones mostly all have GPS systems built inside, not only can a driver download a map, but they can even get active directions on how to get to their destination. This system used to cost hundreds of dollars in the 1990s when the technology was brand new, but time has made the requirement of GPS systems in cars and boats obsolete, except as backup tools and has led to much better travel experiences.
Summary and Conclusions
In summary, there are four ways in which the Internet and the rapidly changing world of technology are affecting our lives, whether adversely or positively. The first is in friendships and relationships, the most personal connections people hold with them in their lives. Social networking and the Internet has brought more people together than ever before from different places around the world, but along with it has made terminating relationships difficult, and has overextended any one person's capacity for friendships at any one time. Those with 1,000+ Facebook friends are an example of a social life which is not just erratic, but nearly impossible to manage. Meaningful friendship requires personal contact, which mobile devices and Internet technology simply cannot provide on its own. Americans need to find a way to use their new electronic devices to enhance their daily interactions, rather than hinder them.
The second way that the Internet has changed our lives is in our diets, mobility, and general laziness. The ease with which the Internet has made commercial transactions has caused Americans to become more obese than ever before. Dangerous habits are formed that discourage a healthy and active lifestyle. Antisocial behavior results in a lessening of leadership skills, and removes much of the nonverbal communication that is essential in carrying out meaningful conversations. Increasingly children who have been raised on smartphones and social media devices have displayed tendencies to not want to play with their friends and to be far less active during school recess, contributing further to health problems. Children increasingly would prefer to go to school computer labs during their downtime rather than enjoy the outdoor spaces available to them.
The third way that the Internet has changed our lives is through politics. In many ways the Internet has improved things around the world, by exposing coverups and expanding public access to knowledge of candidates and campaigns. The United States has experienced this as recently as the 2008 Presidential elections and the mobilization of then candidate Barack Obama. In 2010, the Republicans struck back and regained control of Congress. Thus far, the 2012 election has been no exception, and this campaign season will see two contenders face off who have equally skilled technology teams working for them. On the other hand, the Internet has allowed dangerous extremist groups to flourish and spread their message worldwide, with Al-Qaeda taking the charge in this regard. The daily life of Americans is disrupted by threats of cyber attacks, and the general state of…