Before Facebook, Twitter and numerous other online media sites, sources for news and information were newspapers, radio, and grainy images on roof antenna tuned black & white televisions. To satisfy their curiosity about a certain subject, people made their way to the library, browsed the card catalog, and actually opened books and periodicals. Many a student had a love hate relationship with Encyclopedia Britannica. The closest thing to computer monitors was the microfiche. Endless hours were spent scrolling through screen after screen of ancient images and text. It could be argued that it was a much simpler time; or was it?
Fast forward to the 21st century and the means of obtaining information has changed dramatically. While there’s still print media, radio and television; a vast majority of the information is obtained via online sources. There is no time to comprehend a posting before the next bit of information is online ready to be viewed. Is this need for instantaneous information, a byproduct of man’s technological advancement, doing the world a disservice?
Imagine how past sporting events would have been perceived if they were transmitted via the Internet. Would the NY Jets' Super Bowl win have been as exciting? How fast would images of the Bill Buckner’s error during the 1986 World Series have trended on Twitter? Would YouTube videos depicting neighborhood children waving at the moon to astronauts in July of 1969 gone viral? Would the massive civil rights, anti-war and equal rights protests have simply been relegated to online petition campaigns such as moveon.org and change.org? If so, would their historic significance have been diminished or increased?
Prior to the Internet, news came at a pace comfortable enough for people to readily absorb it and formulate their own opinions. Information is now received so quickly that many are unable to form objective opinions. The wave of information is streaming to laptops, tablets and smartphones at a record pace. Opinions have become more subjective and from gut instinct.
Granted, the Internet does offer more options than the library of the mid-twentieth century ever could. Even so, how many take the time to Google or Bing a topic prior to posting their commentary? These are questions that should be answered. Can the answers be found before the next breaking news post since the Internet waits for no one?