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Spencer Eaton

Jamie McBeth-Smith
English 1010-042
09/25/2014
Technology: Friend or Foe?
In the article Reforming Egypt in 140 Characters, Author, Dennis Baron brings
attention to the influence technology had in the 2011 Egyptian revolution, claiming that while it
may have been influenced by social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there are
also down sides to technologyespecially the internet.
After giving due credit to the social networking sites involved in overthrowing the
Egyptian (and other Middle Eastern) government(s), Baron goes on to suggest that their
involvement may not have been a vital part of the revolution after all, stating that even when the
government shut down internet access the protests not only continued, but actually grew in
numbers. Besides that, only nineteen percent of Tunisians have online access (pp.2) in general,
so the protests and riots would likely have occurred with or without help from the internet. Baron
even goes as far as to claim that the internet is basically only relevant in first world countries,
such as the US, because most countries have little to no access to it.
Baron goes on to explain that while the internet may be a beacon of hope for people in
less fortunate countries, it is quite the opposite here in America. The American internet is, at
best, a simple distraction from our every day problems and at worst, a tool used by our
government to oppress us. For every revolutionary manifesto, there is an equal and opposite
volley of government propaganda, Baron says, For every eye-opening book, there isan
official do not read listAnd for every revolutionary internet site theres a firewall. (pp.4)
In Barons conclusion, he acknowledges the important role the internet has in society, but
questions whether or not that role is vital when he says, it is possible that without Facebook
and Twitter, Hosni Mubarak might still be holed up in the Presidential PalaceBut it is also
likely that the civilization that brought usthe riddle of the Sphinxmight have had a backup
plan (pp.6)
Dennis Baron is not the first person to make claims such as these. Ever since the
invention of the internet people have been worried about their privacy, among other things. On
the other hand, I dont think there is a single person who has the ability to use the internet and
chooses not to. It is an understatement to say that the internet is currently the worlds leading
source of information and entertainment.
On a high note, the internet can open the minds of the ignorant, provide social stimulation
for the lonely and entertain the bored. However I have to agree with Baron when he says that the
internet is not always a good thing. Information its self is, arguably, not always a good thing.
Before the internet, parents rarely had to worry about their children being exposed to violence
and pornography, but ever since 1994, the minute children learn how to use a key board, there is
virtually no way to protect them from things like that. Im not one of those people who think
violence and pornography need to be banned. For adults who understand these things, it can even
be healthy to be exposed to them in moderation, but it is hard to deny that children are being
exposed to these things too young which will only make it harder for them to moderate it when
they are adults. On top of that, there is an entirely newand possibly worse problem that the
internet has introduced: Mass laziness. Its true that before the internet there was TV, and video
games had just started to become popular, but I really dont think it was until the internet that
watching stupid cat videos became a regular source of entertainment--one that is so consuming
that you could literally spend all day watching them without even realizing it.
At least with TV, the show you were watching would go on commercial breaks and
eventually end. At least with video games there are obvious spots to save and quit and, once
again, they eventually end and you will have to spend between 20-70 dollars to get a new game,
forcing you to go outside for at least a few minutes (even if it is just to buy a new game).
With the internet, however, the entertainment never ends. Theres ad before your
YouTube video? Thats ok! Just open another tab and watch, play, or read something else while
you wait. You just finished a five minute long video about a duck that quacks funny? Well dont
stop there! Youll find another 50 videos that are just as cute when you scroll down!
YouTube is bad, but social networking is quite possibly the worst. But-but without
Facebook how am I supposed to keep in touch with my grandkids? Im not denying that there
are positive aspects to sites such as Facebook, but honestly, if you really want to keep in touch
with someone then for gods sake CALL THEM! You wont find any information on Facebook
about your friends and family that you didnt already know unless you are totally oblivious to
them, or you dont actually know the person in question in the real world anyways, in which case
why are you friends with them on the internet? I dont care if its the 21
st
century. It is still
creepy to go out and try to find information on someone youve never met in person. And lets
be real. Nobody tells the truth on the internet anyway. People rarely say anything of substance on
their Facebook pages at all. Its a bunch of threads of people complaining about how their hair
dye isnt vibrant enough, or bragging about their trip to Vegas last weekend which was probably
the first time they had left their house in weeks for anything but work, or yet another dumb cat
videoor even worse a video of them dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads to raise
awareness of their Apathy, Laziness and Stupidity.
If that wasnt enough to turn you off to the internet, thanks to Edward Snowden, we now
know without a shadow of a doubt that the government is in fact spying on us via the internet
and firewalling all of the information that is actually worth knowing, just as Baron speculated
back in 2011.
So, yeah you could argue that the internet is basically Jesus, going around performing the
miracle of enlightenment on the ignorant and without it things like the Egyptian revolution
would never happenOr you could open your eyes and see that when people arent constantly
distracted by stupid s#!t they actually care enough about their liberty to go out and find a
computer, regardless of the risks, and spread awareness. I mean, do you really think that if the
Egyptians had the kind of internet access we do they would have been out in the streets
protesting? Because I have a hunch they would probably have been inside sharing the funny
duck quacking video with their Facebook friends whose faces theyd have never seen.





Works Cited
Reforming Egypt in 140 Characters article from the website blog.oup.com/2011/02/twitter-
revolution/
www.facebook .com
www.YouTube.com
www.providencejournal.com