Shropshire Star comment: Internet is integral to our society
It is remarkable to think that 30 years ago there was no such thing as the world wide web.
An instrument that has become ubiquitous and commonplace did not exist one generation ago. And yet it has changed the lives of everyone, whether they surf or not.
Our public services are connected by the internet, private businesses trade using online platforms, records are kept and information is gathered and disbursed through the ether. The world wide web has become an integral part of life.
Of course, a small number of people exist without access to online services; but they are few and far between. And a generation of adults, as well as the younger generation of children, would now view life without the world wide web as being simply unimaginable.
The West Midlands was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. Ironbridge was the place that led to quantum change around the world, while the Black Country and Birmingham were at the forefront of a brave new world underpinned by new technologies.
In the modern era, this region continues to push forward as it embraces technology and seeks to remain at the cutting edge. And while we cannot claim to rival Silicon Valley, there are numerous tech industries in our area.
The world wide web has brought solutions to old problems in addition to new challenges of its own. There are many who use the technology for nefarious purposes and new forms of crime have arisen.
There is a dark side to the web, as people exchange material and information that ought not to exist. And police need additional resources to tackle the problems caused by computerised crime that flourishes in a place that 30 years ago did not exist.
And yet the potential for good far outweighs that. We are more connected than ever before, we can communicate more effectively and more clearly, we can trade and exchange information and data: it is a brave new world with multifarious opportunities.
We must not let our lives become dominated by the world wide web, however, and people young and old need to do more to monitor and moderate their screen time. We must not lose the human touch – and we must not lose our empathy and human compassion.