The World-Wide Web was invented in 1990, with Facebook first launched in 2004 and Twitter following two years later. The internet’s rapid advancement and the creation of social media has changed how the world learns and communicates. News stories spread within minutes, and any social media user can post their immediate opinion online. Although this provides the opportunity for an incredibly informed population, the speed and convenience can have the opposite effect, eventually resulting in us knowing less.
Today, journalists find themselves racing against each other to be the first to report on breaking news. Often times, they are forced to rely on instant eyewitness accounts relayed within 140 characters or rumors that spread between worried mothers faster than wildfire. To report on an event instantaneously means not having time to wait for the full investigation to be completed, and often before any investigation can even begin. This instant delivery of a dramatic report gets scooped up and passed around the internet, with everyone who reads the same two-paragraph click-bait considering themselves experts.
It is because of the Internet that rapid false information can be spread and sensationalized before the truth is uncovered. Although credit should be given to those news sources that provide updates as details are revealed, the general public unfortunately already believes themselves to be sufficiently educated on a subject – enough to not look it up again. Sadly, those with enough intellectual prowess to be encouraged to search for more details are often still not given the facts due to the progress of search engines.
It is hard not to agree that the Internet is an amazing tool that gives quick access to material in a way that was never before possible. It even revolutionized education, allowing anyone to learn endlessly from anywhere that is convenient or comfortable. Special care is required to ensure the negative consequences do not outweigh the positive influence it has made. So even though the blitz for breaking news will never go away, I urge those who write and report to initially be a little more accurate, and those who read to be a little more aware.