The World at Your Fingertips

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[Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Tonight I marveled at how the Internet has changed our lives. In the space of less than an hour, I refilled a prescription online, bought a book at Amazon and started reading it (adding highlights and notes along the way), and paid some library fines. All from the comfort of my living room, on my iPad.

Of course we can have the debate about whether Amazon is good or bad for the economy (as far as driving smaller bookstores out of business). We can talk about whether the Internet is making us less social people because I didn’t have to talk to anyone to refill that prescription and I didn’t interact with a librarian to pay my library fines. But the truth is – it’s 9:00 on a Saturday night. The library isn’t opening until noon tomorrow, and I don’t have plans to go on that direction. The pharmacy is open, but it’s about 23 degrees outside and I really didn’t feel like bundling up to go outside. The book that I purchased from Amazon was a religious title that I probably could have only gotten at one bookstore in our area – and it’s closed.

I could have run all of those errands tomorrow yes, but I’ve gotten a “head start” by being able to get to them today. Isn’t that productive? One could also debate whether I conserved energy by not driving, or whether those energy savings were negated by the energy I’m using on my iPad and over wifi – one could; but I won’t. 😄

When I stop to think about all of the things that we can do today so easily now that we have high speed Internet in our homes and tablets that allow us to be mobile – it truly is a wonder. And while there may be some truth to the fact that we may be becoming less social people, the Internet also allows us, anonymously, to “help” total strangers all the time. Ever avoided making a reservation at a hotel because the reviews sucked? Ever had a great stay at a vacation spot because the reviews lived up to the hype? Ever tried and enjoyed a new restaurant because it got high ratings on Yelp? (Yes, I know we can also debate the “truth” of reviews and whether they’re fake, but we can spend our whole lives debating everything, can’t we? Who wants to do that???). The truth of the matter is that I bought the latest case for my iPad and knew exactly what to do when the leather prevented the power button from working, because some nice reviewers on Amazon explained what they did, and assured me that it worked for them. (The power button works perfectly now that I followed the instructions, by the way!).

I can book my next trip for work, read about what’s happening in North Korea, stay in touch with friends in England, order church shoes for my son, share my thoughts on this month’s book for my book club with a huge community of readers on Goodreads, donate to to the Innocence Project, and a whole host of other things, using only my fingertips. To me – that’s the world at my fingertips, and it’s pretty darn amazing!!!

[image courtesy of stockimages / digital photos.net]

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