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Reviewing the Positive aspects of the internet

After class on Thursday I returned to my apartment and went about my daily routine. I made myself some coffee, checked my email, and then preceded to read the New York Times. Considering that I am a poor college student, the only way that I have access to the New York Times, or any paper for that matter, is through the internet. I could say that I would prescribe to a newspaper, but I know that I wouldn’t go through with it probably out of fear of having anymore bills to pay off and maybe in part due to sheer laziness. But, the internet is a part of my everyday life. I spend a large chunk of my free time devoted to updating myself on the most current news. It has become a hobby of mine, something I don’t even think about anymore. But, if I didn’t have access to the internet, I strongly believe that I would not be as well educated or as involved in current issues in our society as I am today. This got me thinking back to our discussion that we had in class regarding the pros and cons of the internet and whether it is good for civic participation or not. While I completely understand the negative aspects of the internet, I feel that there are so many positive points that we tend to overlook, including Putnam.

Going back to my nice little adventure on the New York Times website, I was noticing all of the links that you can click on when reading the newspaper. These included audio clips, related articles, past articles on the same issue, and so many more; something you could not get when reading the regular newspaper. In addition, another website I frequently visit is the national public radio website. One can listen and re-listen to issues that have been discussed over periods of several months. These include top news stories, book reviews, music reviews, personal opinions, and so much more. I don’t feel the need to go on much longer about all of the added features that online websites provide because I’m sure we are all well aware. It is just interesting to look at and then go back to reading Putnam and all of his criticism on the media and the internet. While I understand his argument, I do feel that there are a lot of positive aspects that play a large role in contributing to civic involvement that he his failing to note.


I feel the same way about my own knowledge about the world - I would be much more ignorant if I didn't have the internet at my fingertips!

I'll defend Putnam a bit though. His criticism of the internet isn't necessarily that it doesn't help people stay informed, simply that it isn't clear that it increases participation. As someone who stays fairly up to date on current events, yet isn't particularly active in terms of participation, I can certainly see the distinction. Not that the internet necessarily causes this: I doubt I'd somehow be more active without the internet, though I know I'd be more ignorant!