Finding information – One of the greatest uses of the internet is being able to find information on almost any topic quickly. When it comes to fixing things around the house or garage, I’ve always been one of those do-it-yourselvers. I’m not afraid to jump in and get my hands dirty, and with the aid of my home computer or smart phone I can usually find a working solution within seconds. Weather I’m changing a water pump on my truck, panning for gold in the Current River, researching the Riemann Hypothesis for a math paper, or just looking for world news happening that moment, I can find it.
This access to information is amazing, and it sure beats my Encyclopedia Britannica of the 80s, but it does have a down side—false information! With so much information to sift through it’s sometimes difficult to find the exact thing you’re looking for, and this is particularly important when it comes to news. Any Joe Schmo with a smidgen of HTML knowledge can put up a website and say, “This is what is happening in the world today.” When it comes to info you dig up on the internet it’s best to look at multiple sites and make sure they are reputable. It’s so easy to spread false information, so don’t repost something that just has a cute picture with a catchy phrase. My favorite piece of misinformation has a picture of Abraham Lincoln and it says, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it. –Abraham Lincoln”
Connecting through social media – Probably the most used aspect of the internet in our personal lives today is connecting with others through social media. In the “olden days” one would have to get in the car and drive to a friend’s house or walk over to the wall phone and dial their number, afterwards spending 5 minutes untangling the spiral chord that attached the handset to the base. These days, we all sit on our couches and watch TV while the laptop, tablet, or smart phone is open in front of us.
Communication has become convenient, and we can connect with large groups of people instantly, but are we really more connected? It is easy to blurt out how we feel and what we think without allowing the feedback of a deeper relationship back into our lives. I’ve made it my goal to always have positive comments on my social media outlets. I want my words to encourage, strengthen, build up, and even make people laugh.
Sending digital currency – A third positive use for the internet is the ability to send money digitally to others. This has been going on for years behind the scenes for banks and businesses, but has really exploded for personal use over the last decade. According to Gallup, in 1998 only about 10% said that they were likely to shop online for Christmas items, but in 2013 this number was up to 53%.
Banks and businesses often provide you way to send them money, but it has become increasingly easy to share your wealth with other individuals. Through services like PayPal, you can create an account and send or receive money. It’s crazy to think that anyone with a credit or debit card can give me money through my personal PayPal account –waiting, waiting! Another not so well known form of currency that’s gaining interest is something called a Bitcoin. It is a software-based online payment system that allows individuals to send money to others. The benefits are the ability to send money to others directly without the need for a third party and tractions are cheap, but they are not widely accepted and your Bitcoin wallet can be lost which makes the money irretrievable.
The obvious negative side of sending digital currency is security. When we hear of viruses and hackers in the news it’s easy to say the system is broke and not use it, but with just a few small steps you can be safe and secure.
- Always keep your operating system and antivirus software updated, and run weekly scans.
- Always make sure there is a padlock in the address bar of your browser when you shop.
- Only shop at stores you trust. Anyone can create a website and accept credit cards.
- Use a credit card over a debit card. They provide more legal protection and don’t pull directly from your checking account.