Scholarship Essay for Verizon Internet

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Virtual Limits: The Offline Life

I feel fortunate that I remember what life was like before cell phones and the Internet became our primary ways of communicating.  I spent more time outside, looking beyond—not straight into a screen or down into a phone.  The world seemed so much bigger then, just as now it’s contained in a square that fits in the palm of our hand.

For better or worse, my life would be different if the Internet didn’t exist.  I would certainly have a better memory, as I don’t have to remember anything anymore.  I can just google it.

People would play games with family and friends rather than online with people they don’t know.  I wouldn’t take pictures of my food, just to show everyone how good it turned out.  My old acquaintances would fade into the past, and some people, I would still be friends with, because it’s easy to have no filter when discussing politics behind a monitor.  That said, there are many I would have never known at all, due to location, and I might actually see the friends I have more.  I may even get to know my neighbors better, for they are equally distracted by friends in that mystical place called Elsewhere as I am sometimes.  No one but family would see my home movies or pictures of my children.  We would truly live, not live to record.

News would be more objective, because I believe most news is manufactured to generate controversy and buzz online, becoming provocative than informative; it’s shaped to divide, because conflict sells.  Pundits aren’t experts, but personalities—entertainers in one of the lowest art forms known as political theatre.

Authors would find it easier, in some ways, to sell their work, for free content wouldn’t be so prevalent.  Yet, many voices might never be heard, as I’ve found mine through blogging.  Introverts, like myself, would have a harder time breaking the ice—having to do it over the phone or in person—but the quest for likes and followers would be nonexistent.  Magazines would no longer be flooded with submissions, and would be less likely to charge a reading fee.  I wouldn’t even have a blog, my audience reduced to the people I would send my work to, my family, and a few friends.  I would no longer have the instant gratification of being published instantaneously.

School would improve, for cyberbullying would be a Thing That Never Happened.  When writing research papers, I would have to go to the library to cite sources, poring through pages and pages of information I would never use, and some questions, I would never know the answer to.

Our society would invest more in the local economy for harder-to-find items, and companies like Blockbuster would still be in business.  We would have less choice, and yet, the choices we would have might seem vastly more appealing.

 “It is the greatest truth of our age: Information is not knowledge.” ― Caleb Carr

(Word count:  501)

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