Last week the World Wide Web celebrated it’s 25th anniversary. Somehow it’s hard to believe that just a quarter of a century ago there was no surfing the Internet, no Facebook, and the only way to Google something was to pull out your trusty set of Encyclopedia Britannica. As Edith Bunker would declare over a decade earlier, “Those were the days.” But while those 10 pound encyclopedias have gone the way of the phone book and the card catalog at your local library, we have to agree that this new age of information and technology is far beyond anything even George Jetson could have ever imagined.
Yet with all the things the World Wide Web was envisioned to do, I don’t think it can or should replace the human factor. You see, as cool as it is to Skype a college student in Italy, it is just as important to know your elderly neighbor next door. And while with just a click of your mouse you can donate money to the next big California start-up, volunteering at your local food bank helps those in the communities where you live and work.
Perhaps the biggest use of the web these days is social media, i.e., “Let me tell you all of the great things I’m doing, while omitting the not so great things.” I’m joking (slightly), but you have to admit, we do tend to embellish the mediocre when it’s beneficial to our cause. J.W. Von Goethe said it best, “The highest problem of every art is, by means of appearances, to produce the illusion of a loftier reality.”
As we continue to head full speed into the digital age, let’s not forget to support brick and mortar small businesses, host dinners with real friends, and be honest when telling the stories of our lives; the truth can go a long way in inspiring others.
Happy 25th, World Wide Web. As you blow out the candles on your virtual cake, I pray your wish is that our human connection parallels that of our online kinship.
Thanks to you, we’re a lot closer than we used to be.
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