In the modern day it sometimes seems like the internet rules over our lives, and with so many people actively online the internet has become an impactful aspect of culture.
As users on the internet, we actively contribute to a growing and changing culture that is still relatively new. But with a tool as powerful as the internet is, people can share their experiences and discuss things outside of the world of the web. This creates communities and groupings of people with shared interests.
In many ways the way people communicate on the internet reflects the values of the postmodern era of media. In many ways, postmodernism and internet culture go hand in hand. The fragmentation of different cultures and time periods is very common in the way we behave and share things on the internet. “It’s a fusion of almost everything, in the way that I think society today tends to take cultural memory. Because there’s an internet, it’s on there forever. I think that’s the way kids see the world today. They actually speak to each other using retro concepts now because the internet culture has kept that memory alive, constantly.” Says Joseph M. Kahn, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. This ties in with the elephant in the room when it comes to internet culture: memes.
Internet memes have been a huge talking point in the social aspect of the internet for years. They are a perfect example of the way the culture of the internet operates. Memes are often short lived, but they retain a relevant nature by centering around important social and political talking points. Despite their humorous nature, memes can keep people informed in a unique way, and are important for communication on the internet.
Another positive part of internet culture is the easy ability to create that people have through online tools for drawing or photo editing. Through the many avenues of the online world, art can be created and shared in more efficient ways than ever before. This also applies to memes, and through the easy ability to create them the public is easily able to commentate on issues.
The common idea of easy accessibility also applies to online communication. People can communicate with each other on the internet in hundreds of different ways on many different platforms. On social media we interact with each other and share our interests or just socialize with people that we may not even know in person. Internet communication can bridge gaps between cultures, and even break language barriers. People can come together based on what they believe in or what they love despite being thousands of miles apart.
The internet has also been huge in the access to information that everyone now has. People are able to research and read up on topics in an instant through a Google search, and it seems like nearly every piece of information possible is documented somewhere on the internet. “In terms of the spread of knowledge, the past two decades have been as revolutionary as when early man harnessed fire.” Says Kenneth Cukier, senior editor of The Economist.
Despite the wonderful tool the internet has clearly been in a social and informational sense, not everybody seems to feel the same way about it. Typically, the younger generation is the predominant example of an active participator in the digital world, and they are aware of the way they communicate online. However, this knowledge doesn’t apply to all people and many of the older generation seem to have a misunderstanding of the internet. They often think that the internet’s only usage is for reading news articles and searching Google, this close-minded attitude about what the internet can be is one of the few issues with internet culture.
Yet, the internet continues to be a driving force in communication. Since wireless communication’s rise in the 90s, the internet has continued to spread across the entire world. This has ended issues related to setting up telecommunication lines and infrastructure that can be very difficult to construct in certain areas.
With all of this in mind, it becomes apparent that the internet has not only propelled its own culture and communication forward, but it has changed the way that the current generation communicates with each other. It has created an entirely new social environment and has increased sociability and communication throughout the entire world. Even with the massive impact the internet has had it is still only about two decades into its lifetime, and the state of the current culture will continue to evolve and develop along with the people using it. Because when it comes down to it, the internet is about its users and they continue to create a new social environment online.