Rob Leitch is a secondary school teacher from Sidcup, Bexley. Follow Rob on Twitter.
We are often told that history will reflect on our period of time as being the ‘digital age’ – a time of rapid and remarkable technological brilliance. A quick glance around your home will probably provide substantial evidence of this claim. After all, you are likely to be reading this article on a tablet, smart phone, or at least an old fashioned PC.
Central to the digital age claim is, of course, the rise of the internet. The World Wide Web is the biggest symbol of rapid globalisation. Over the past 20 years, those living in the West have seen the internet integrated into almost every fragment of daily life, from fulfilling retail needs to booking holidays, from face time to accessing shares in global markets instantaneously. Social relationships too are not only maintained online, but increasingly can be created in cyber space, ensuring that the internet has truly become the gateway to the world, from the comfort of your own home or handheld device.
Yet this happy tale of progress, flexibility, global enterprise and opportunity would fail to be a human story without the full consequences of human nature. Just take the last month or so. We have had the Prime Minister talking about online pornography “corroding childhood”; the Home Affairs Select Committee claiming that the UK is losing the war on cybercrime (worth over $388 billion globally per year); Twitter trolls issuing rape, bomb and death threats to celebrities, and the desperately tragic death of yet another teenager following a shocking case of cyber bullying.
Violent pornography, internet trolls and cyber bullying – the ugly side of the internet has been on display. In truth, it is the ugly side of our very own society, visible in high definition through a computer screen.