The Internet is often likened to an ‘information highway’, or the ‘eye to the world’, or the other common metaphors you can find just by searching on Google. Well, Steven Covey once said “live out of your imagination, not your history”. Thus, let me propose a slightly unconventional metaphor for the Internet – a dragon. Allow me to elaborate.
As the myths and legends go, the dragon is a fury creature, a magestic beast with unlimited powers. The dragon is feared by the common people and sometimes made use of by the wise or the evil. The legendary beast influenced the lives of great civilisations like China and ancient Greece (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragons_in_Greek_mythology, http://www.moonfestival.org/legends/dragon.htm). We liken this to the Internet – a digital juggernaut possessing the power to unearth unlimited amounts of information, affect the global economy and shape culture.
Firstly, statistics show that the Internet is now the most commmonly used tool to search for information (http://smallbusinessshift.com/news/2011-yellow-pages-vs-online-usage/). The convenience offered by the Internet overwhemingly overshadows the benefits of traditional media. Because of this, the Internet has tranformed into a digital juggernaut with the power to provide unlimited information to people worldwide. However, this has also turned the Internet into a ‘monster’ to some people, while others are trying to take advantage of its abilities and powers. Common people are afraid of privacy issues to do with search engines as well as social media sites. Instead of helping them, people are burdened with issues of spam and the unnecessary revealing of personal information – one of my friend failed to get a job due to some compromising photos that was posted on social networking site Facebook. The dragon has haunted and terrorised him. However, people on the other side of the spectrum are the ‘wise’ or ‘evil’ ones as I have mentioned. They are the ones that know how to make use of the Internet, or the dragon which we now call it. They commercialise the dragon, dissect it and sell it to the people. This commercialisation has become so mammoth such that the global economy is directly dependent on the dragon. Apple, Facebook and Google, three technological companies that deal with the dragon in one way or another that rocketed to become three of a dozen most important and highest networth companies in the world attest to this. Also, a second of the dragon’s absence, or, in other words, the Internet being down for a second could mean hundreds of millions of money being lost by financial companies in the world. What other creature as magestic as the dragon could be this destructive and influencial? What other creature is more apt in conceptualising the Internet?
As I briefly mentioned at the start of this commentary, the Internet is akin to the dragon in the shaping of cultures. People now depend on the Internet immensely like how our Chinese ancestors depended on the dragon to predict the weather, the seas and their ruler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_dragon). We refer to this phenomenon as a new culture called cyberculture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberculture). The rise of the Internet greatly contributed to cyberculture as it provided the platform for humans to do a plethora of things much more conveniently. For example, this post right now would belong in a diary 12 to 15 years ago. Many more people now socialise through the Internet (http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm) as compared to the conventional way of meeting people in the streets. Also, business meetings have given way to online conferences and people do their banking through the Internet instead of at the banks. Even popular culture is immensely influenced by the Internet. K-pop, or Korean popular culture boomed when music videos of the songs of Korean idol groups were made available on the Internet, particularly Youtube. A very current example would be the music video of “Gangnam Style” by Korean rapper Psy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0). By now who have not heard of it and heard or seen the many parodies of it? We are lucky (or unlucky to some) to be living in this era where we are witnessing first-hand these changes in our culture and way of life. Thus, as first-hand witnesses, we should agree that the Internet as a dragon is apt in the way it shaped or influenced culture.
We know this commentary has loopholes in the liking of the Internet as a dragon, but once again, Steven Covey once said “live out of your imagination, not your history”, so pardon us and allow us indulge in our imagination. 🙂