The Internet was supposed to make us smarter. In fact, in the early days, you had to be pretty damned smart to even use the Internet, but I won’t digress into the pre-WWW days of Archie and Gopher… you probably wouldn’t understand anyway. After all, many people don’t even remember a world before the Internet! But now, with anything you want to research available right in our own homes, lightning fast, with just a few clicks with a search engine, we should all be better prepared for anything that comes our way.
The Internet doesn’t seem to be a freeway of knowledge, but just another version of the back yard fence where neighbors spread the latest gossip. Sure, the most used website in the world is Google, but after someone enters their search term, choosing where to go next is completely up to the individual doing the search.
When you searched for that incriminating evidence on that politician you hate, did you end up clicking on Snopes or a pundit blog? When you searched for whether you can take Nyquil and Ambien together, did you end up on the drug company website or some “answers” website, where anyone can post their response regardless of whether or not it’s an educated statement?
Many people get distracted by misleading search results, or just don’t pay attention in the first place. On top of that, Google is taking steps lately to “personalize” your search results so that your existing ideas and opinions can stay safely intact in your own insular existence.
Number two on the popularity roster is Facebook. This month on Facebook I learned that Romney’s campaign slogan is borrowed from the KKK, Bill Nye the Science Guy died and so did Bill Cosby, drinking breast milk cures homosexuality, August is Autism Awareness Month, Samsung settled their lawsuit with Apple using a billion dollars in nickels! Yeah, riiiiight!
The third most popular website is YouTube. Next is Yahoo (really?), because apparently some people haven’t graduated to Gmail yet. Then there’s Baidu (the Chinese don’t have Google).
Number six is Wikipedia, which is at least reasonably accurate, especially now that it’s harder to make changes without being in their golden inner circle of contributors. However, just a little bit of critical observation will reveal that many public figures and corporations have teams to groom their entries, cutting out the unfavorable stuff.
Next is Hotmail (again… really?) followed by Twitter, the latest go-to source for television news networks. After all, we all know how reliable the opinions of the rabbling masses are for information gathering. Then QQ.com (Chinese) followed by Amazon.
Amazon! That reminds me… I’ve got some shopping to do.