Do You Really Need the Internet?
SHOULD you use the Internet? Of course, this is a personal matter, one that you should weigh carefully. What factors might influence your decision?
Need—Have You Calculated the Expense?
Much of the recent growth of the Internet is due to strong marketing efforts of the business world. Clearly, their motive is to create a sense of need. Once this perceived need is cultivated, some organizations then require a membership or annual subscription fee for the information or service that you initially accessed without cost. This fee is in addition to your monthly Internet access costs. Some on-line newspapers are a common example of this practice.
Have you calculated the expense of equipment and software versus your actual need? (Compare Luke 14:28.) Are there public libraries or schools with access to the Internet? Using these resources at first may help you to assess your need without making a large initial investment in a personal computer and related equipment. It may be that appropriate public Internet resources can be used, as needed, until it is clear how often such resources are actually required. Remember, the Internet existed for more than two decades before the general public even became aware of it, let alone felt a need for it!
Security—Is Your Privacy Protected?
Another key concern is confidentiality. For example, your E-mail message should be seen only by your intended recipient. While the letter is in transit, however, a clever and possibly unscrupulous person or group could intercept or monitor your correspondence. To protect messages, some people use E-mail software products to scramble their letter’s sensitive contents before mailing it. At the other end, the receiving party may need similar software for unscrambling the message.
Recently, much discussion has focused on the exchange of credit-card and other sensitive information for commercial use on the Internet. Although substantial innovations are expected to strengthen security, the noted computer security analyst Dorothy Denning states: “Completely secure systems are not possible, but the risk can be reduced considerably, probably to a level commensurate with the value of the information stored on the systems and the threat posed by both hackers and insiders.” Absolute security is not realizable in any computer system, whether connected to the Internet or not.
Can You Afford the Time?
Another important issue is your time. How long will it take to install and learn the tools to navigate the Internet? Also, one experienced Internet instructor pointed out that surfing the Internet “can be one of the most addictive and time-intensive activities for a new Internet user.” Why is this?
There are large numbers of interesting subjects and countless new things to discover. In effect, the Internet is a vast collection of libraries with visually appealing documents. Navigating through just a fraction of it can easily whittle away most of the evening hours before you even think of sleep. (See the box “How Valuable Is Your Time?” on page 13.) Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Web navigators lack control. However, it would be wise to place time and content restraints on Web surfing—especially for youngsters. Many families do the same with television.* This will protect time set aside for family and spiritual activities.—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Matthew 5:3.
Are You Missing Out?
In time, Internet technology will be more fully deployed in developing areas of the world. However, recall the people mentioned at the beginning of the first article. Most of the information they obtained could have been acquired by using libraries, telephones, conventional mail, or newspapers. Of course, some of these methods may involve more time and expense. Still, for the majority of people throughout the earth, these more traditional methods will likely continue for a time to be the primary means of communication.
See the article “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Stop Watching So Much TV?” in the February 22, 1985, issue of Awake!
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Surfing the Net can become a trap if self-control is lacking