The Communication Evolution: How the Web Changed It All

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Could you survive without a Wi-Fi signal?

I’m not talking wilderness survival. I’m talking off-the-grid, no cell service, no data, mobile phone battery at zero survival. “Off the grid” means off Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It means no access to Twitter, WhatsApp or OKCupid.

The internet hasn’t just changed communication. The internet has reinvented communication.

An office or campus can distribute news and pertinent details with the tap of a ‘send’ button. Friends can sit elbow-to-elbow or face-to-face and communicate with their entire contact lists, yet not each other. People find long-lost friends online – and check up on exes. You can meet friends around the world and live a secret, double life. You can live-cast your favorite team’s home games – and never set foot in the ballpark.

The web isn’t just for the metro areas and Silicon Valley, of course. People pin on Pinterest from Philadelphia to Pine Bluff, Ark. Climbers ascending Mount Everest have access to high-speed internet. Of the 7.125 billion people on earth, 3.2 billion get on the internet.

Here are three areas of communication – news gathering, romance discovering and friends communicating – that have evolved with the internet.

Expressing expertise – and consuming it

BACK IN THE DAY | News came from a limited number of sources. There were three TV networks, a local newspaper, and global news services. News cycles piqued for the morning news and evening news. Radio broadcasts broke stories in between.

WITH THE INTERNET TODAY | News comes from unlimited sources. It’s all over dozens of cable news networks, millions of blogs, newsfeeds and tweets. News cycles pique 24 hours, seven days a week. Websites can break a story in a second – and pull it from the site moments later.

“The internet allows me to find others who share similar interests and also allows me to see other people’s viewpoints and absorb the other side of the story.” – Veronica, on Facebook

Finding Love – or pursuing it

BACK IN THE DAY | Looking for a mate? Go to church, singles bars or ask a friend to find a blind date. Take out a personal ad, like in the song Escape (The Pina Colada Song). It’s numbers, jotted on cocktail napkins. Roll the dice and ask out that cute girl in biology class.

WITH THE INTERNET TODAY | Looking for a mate? Visit an online forum, dating app, or chase a Twitter crush. Find love in a chat room, like in the song Love on the Internet. Swipe right on Bumble or Tinder; start a conversation with that cute girl on Match.

I’m communicating with people I would not have met otherwise! – Ginger, on Facebook

Staying in touch – with old friends and new connections

BACK IN THE DAY | Put pen to stationary and write out a letter to a pen pal. Read updates on family and acquaintances by letters in Christmas cards. Drop a post card in the post box on vacation, and say “wish you were here!” Stalking an ex took surveillance skills.

WITH THE INTERNET TODAY | Search for high school crushes on Facebook and request to be friends. Get updates on family, acquaintances and 1,500 others via your newsfeed or Twitter feed. Drop a message on Snapchat from anywhere, and say “hey girl.” Stalking an ex only requires a social media account.

The internet has given me the ability to share my thoughts with thousands of people. I never would have met some people that I have if it hadn’t been for blogging using the internet. – Courtney, on Facebook

For sure, the internet has transformed the way we communicate.

Immediacy gives us flexibility to hold people closer than before. It can also overload us with thousands of friends and potential love connections. Classrooms can videoconference with other classrooms on the other side of the globe. How far has communication evolved? Just wander out of Wi-Fi range.

It forces us to dial on our smartphones, not just tap and swipe.

The Internet has changed the way we relate to one another. Yet, there’s still room for face-to-face visits or … even phone calls.

My mom hasn’t called me in over a year. She communicates solely through Facebook! – Nina, on Facebook

 

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About Author

Eli

Eli studied English and Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte. A former sportswriter, he writes a blog about coaching his daughters in soccer and once was mistaken for racecar driver Juan Pablo Montoya. He writes on the Internet and other technology. He’s a native of Greeley, Colo., an avid NPR listener and average disc golfer.

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