Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Stephenson '13: Why I hate the Internet


In a Monday opinion column ("Why I hate smartphones," March 19), Lucas Husted '13 explained his hatred for smartphones. He points out that, aside from being expensive and distracting, the smartphone is "a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none." I personally only communicate long distances via the postal service, but I can only imagine that the modern smartphone must be inferior in texting and calling ability than its dumber predecessors. Furthermore, Husted points out that people become dependent on their smartphones for pretty much everything - directions, restaurant recommendations and mindless time-wasting with Angry Birds.

He is totally right, but I would argue that he doesn't go far enough. It's time someone stood up against the Internet. In today's world we all just seem to mindlessly accept that the Internet is a "good" thing. As someone who chooses never to use the Internet, I face constant punishment from peers and professors alike. I'm constantly pressured to log on to MyCourses or use Facebook. It is even commonplace in most job applications nowadays to assume applicants have email addresses. Seriously? What is wrong with us?

Think about all of the ways the Internet and smartphones are similar. People waste lots of time on them. They both "help" people make decisions and access information. I hate them both. The list goes on. Husted wrote in his column about how people with smartphones got especially annoyed over the summer when a massive email chain erupted from a Brown notification sent out to all students and faculty concerning a change with Google apps. Rather than join Husted in blaming smartphones for people being annoyed, I blame the Internet. When our parents were our age, notifications would be delivered on paper or by telephone. Back then, to "reply all" would cost a pretty penny down at the post office as well as require you to spend all day at the typewriter making hundreds of copies of your message.

The Internet allows people to instantly connect all across the world like never before - but at what cost? What about the millions of hours people waste watching videos of David after the dentist and looking at pictures of cats? Now when someone wants directions, they don't pull out a map. They go to Google, which tells them which way to go. Thanks for making humanity stupid, Al Gore. I should point out that I personally think that maps make people stupid as well. They are a poor substitute for judging directions using growth patterns of moss on trees, but I digress. The point is that the Internet, like smartphones, makes it easier for us to do things like find directions. Since it's easier to do stuff the new way, we forget how to do stuff the old way, and therefore we end up worse off than before.

I want to make it clear that I, like Husted, am not against progress. But sometimes things are just good enough the way they are, and you shouldn't try to make them any better - the plow is a good example. As Husted pointed out, "the development of the plow ended well before it started telling us what restaurant to eat at." If only more things could be like the plow - knowing when to stop before going too far. I wish Charmander never evolved into Charmeleon. I'm still upset about the mass firing of scribes after the invention of the printing press. What was so wrong with the Ford Model T that now everyone is whizzing around in vans and sedans?

Recently, Internet communication aided civil uprisings all across the Arab world. Protesters gained international support as videos of government oppression were uploaded to YouTube and shared with everyone on the Internet bandwagon. Many of these videos were even recorded using smartphones' video recording capabilities! Unfortunately, Encylopedia Britannica stopped printing editions of their encyclopedias before Arab Spring's conclusion so I'm not completely sure how things ended up, but I assume it wasn't good.

I'll conclude with some sincerity.

A pattern of history seems to be people becoming more and more connected all the time. Humans have developed spoken language, written word, postal services, printing presses, telephones, radios, televisions, cell phones, the Internet and smartphones. Each innovation allows us to connect with people and access information quicker and easier than before. Many of these innovations also present the opportunity for distraction, dependence and time-wasting. These are all very legitimate concerns, but the solution is not to blame technology.

People should themselves determine the limits they place on their level of engagement with their cell phones (as well as the Internet, TV, video games and so on). Husted has decided he doesn't want to "see what Lil' Wayne is tweeting while (he's) on the toilet." That's his choice, and it's a fine one. To everyone who accepts the conveniences and distractions of the "gaming-camera-Internet-music-calling thing" we call a smartphone, that's a fine choice, too.


Ben Stephenson '13 can be reached at If you email him, his phone will probably buzz in his pocket, and he'll read it really fast.



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.