Does The Internet Affect Our Social Life and Behaviour?

Internet-IPv6

The Internet

The Internet. That beautiful yet awful, useful yet time-wasting, world in which many people are lost in. The history of the internet is complex and involved many factors that played together to make it what it is today. The concept of networking was there from the 60s where the idea of packet switching was introduced and written about. With time it developed to the ARPANET, and other technologies which developed into what is known as the World Wide Web today. The internet was developed first as a method of sharing information, such as e-mails, and it has now become a means through which we communicate, access information, get entertained, and it facilitates activities that are otherwise tedious, such as job or accommodation searching. It allows you to communicate with people all around the world, reducing travel or mail costs. The internet has become an integral part of almost everyone’s life nowadays and this, despite the many benefits associated with the internet, also carries with it a heavy load of issues that need to be addressed. The issues discussed are by no means all the problems that arise from internet use, but only a handful to discuss.

 

Addiction

Adicción a internet

Addiction to the internet may seem like something insignificant, or in some sense comical. I mean, it’s the internet, it’s always there, what could possibly be the problems of overusing it? Psychologist Kimberley Young defines four types of addiction; cyber sexual, being online, purchases or gambling, and compulsive surfing. Just like with certain drugs or smoking, internet addiction can be associated with withdrawal symptoms, not necessarily pathological, but more of psychological effects. These could include the sense of missing and wanting to get back on the internet as soon as possible. When travelling through areas with no connection or spending some time in a certain place, addicts tend to look for a Wi-fi signal whether they are at a rest stop, a fuel station or even at their friend’s house. There is a certain void in their life that they are using the internet to fill. Addiction can lead to overspending money and time, introduction of harmful websites and laziness in general.

Laziness

lazy

Laziness is caused by the internet for obvious reasons. Do you want to buy something? You can on the internet. Are you low on medication? Buy some from the internet. Hungry? Delivery is available after purchasing on the internet. Want to see someone? It’s convenient to just open video-calling software and contact them on the internet rather than making your way over there. It simplifies many things; you can even earn money from home on the internet (through ethical and unethical ways) and learn stuff as well!

Privacy and abuse

Big issue. Should we be concerned about our privacy? Yes we do. Why? Well, because whatever we post, we don’t know where the information might end up.  For example, having accounts on certain websites externalizes information to service providers and other people. If your picture is available on the Internet somewhere, it can be taken and used for other purposes than intended. There is a rising issue with girls, for example, sending pictures on the internet that can be used by the recipient as blackmail. Despite the act being voluntary, it still poses a risk on the long term. The pilot of the recently lost Malaysia Airlines flight was shown to have a flight simulator, which he posted a picture of on Facebook, probably causing authorities to search his home and laptops for information from the simulator that might help them conclude whether he hijacked the plane or not. Access to personal information online can help people track down others. Ethical issues in the workplace or in education have arisen when people posted abuse on the Internet, causing people to lose their jobs or place. It can be used to socially profile people; a recent opening of a café in Egypt had the management request reserving customers to send them their Facebook profiles before going.

Social Life

As mentioned, many turn to the internet as a means to fill up a hole or a gape in their lives. People look for friends and even soulmates on chat sites, dating sites and through social networking. But do online friendships really feel the same as friends you make in real life? I certainly don’t think so. You can find someone who seems perfect for you somehow when you look at their pictures, read their description and chat with them. Then you meet them and there isn’t really that same connection that you get with the friends you know and hang out with. Physical presence and contact are important in establishing connections. Forming a ‘profile’ and conveying yourself to others, and becoming friends or following them on certain social networks may give a false sense of that connection. And with social networks sucking more and more out of some people’s lives, it might cause the development of a new form of friendship that is different to the one we were used to before the internet became such a huge establishment. This form is certainly less genuine, less intimate, and less likely to continue on the long term. Yes, the internet has helped reconnect old friends, something that is near impossible otherwise, but most things have their positives and negatives, and we’re mainly discussing the issues here. Despite it being a great time-filler, the internet is not enough to fill that gape that people might suffer from due to lack of intimacy or close connections with at least one person.

Education

MOOCs, or “massive open online courses”, are now becoming increasingly popular on the internet. Despite it being a much more accessible (probably more affordable as well) form of education, I still believe it is not as effective as college or university life. As well as contributing to the laziness factor, I believe there is not the same feel from studying virtually than going to university. Most of us have heard stories from our parents’ university life and one day we students will do the same with our children! Studying online is dull, and with a lack of motivation, such as that from university friends, it might not take you far. There probably is going to be bias between someone who stuck to traditional forms of education and others who have achieved degrees online, it almost doesn’t sound as serious. Will they replace universities? I doubt it, at least not any time soon. MOOCs can be used as a supplement to current education, but probably won’t replace it for a long time, if it ever does. It needs improvements and innovations before it can be taken as a serious alternative.

Conclusion

Although we find a lot of drawbacks as we talk about internet and how it affects people, it’s still the number 1 source of information. For example, google, the fastest and most convinient source of information right now. This gives people the chance to get trustworthy data they need in a matter of minutes.

 

Andrew Yacoub.

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APPLE! Secluding or Intruding?

apple-privacy

6 months ago, Apple came out with its latest product, the iPhone 5S, which was designed with many new features including an improved camera, a newer and faster processor, the A7, and its coprocessor the M7 which collects motion data from the gyroscope, compass and accelerometer, thereby reducing the load on the A7 processor.  One of the more prominent features of this new device is the fingerprint scanner, better known as Touch ID. This is an option that allows you to use your fingerprint to unlock your phone and as a form of approval for App Store purchases.

According to Apple, the usage of a fingerprint scanner instead of the 4-digit passcode reduces the chance and risk of the phone being hacked. The odds of guessing a 4-digit passcode was claimed by Apple to be 1 in 10,000 whereas the odds of another person having similar enough fingerprints to fool the scanner is 1 in 50,000; that is a 5-fold reduction in risk. This is an improvement, considering that 5 failed attempts at unlocking with a fingerprint will cause the phone to revert back to unlocking with just the passcode. More complex passcodes can be used, further enhancing the security and making a breach more difficult for those naughty hackers and thieves all around.

This high sensitivity scanner raised a trend where people managed to set the scanner to read prints made by parts other than the human finger. Some bizarre videos included the use of cat paws and, much to my surprise, human nipples. People can be weird, man.

Now, no security is perfect, they can all be breached with exactly the right resources and knowledge. They just differ on the level of security and ease of breaking. With that in mind, hackers have begun to play around, searching for a means to access the phone without the need of the original owner’s fingers, from as soon as the phone came out in the market. In fact, a flaw was found only 2 days after the release.

How could people breach a device with that much thought put into security and privacy? Well, in one of the cases people took a photograph of the owner’s fingerprint on glass, and created a copy of that on some film which was then used to unlock the phone. In other cases,

The other privacy issue, which Apple have obviously denied, is if the fingerprints are saved in/accessible from Apple servers. They claim that fingerprint data is saved only in the phone’s A7 processor chip, in an encrypted form. They posted that ‘it stores only a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. It isn’t possible for your actual fingerprint image to be reverse-engineered from this mathematical representation.’ The data is stored in a ‘Security Enclave’ in the chip and is inaccessible by iOS, iCloud (Apple’s backup storage service) or any app. Take note: this is the case with the A7 chip alone; would the future processor chips have as much security when the privacy issue is dissolved? Who knows… It is important to note that Apple have acknowledged that it can give the government user data if they were mandated.

Scared from NSA?

A lot of people have been wondering whether Apple with their database of millions of thumbprints, might turnover some customers fingerprint to NSA when ordered by the government. As Apple is known to be a partner in NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, but as previously mentioned, Apple stated that everything is stored in the A7 processor but if you think about it when you purchase an app and use your fingerprint as authentication , the iPhone will be sending some sort of authentication token to Apple servers to verify that the end user has produced a valid fingerprint. So if that’s true attackers can find a way to capture and replay the users token.

Do all people care about the fingerprint risk? 

I believe most people buy the iPhone 5s because of its looks, most people are loyal customers to Apple and another reason is that they trust the company. Also many people, specially old iPhone users love the iPhone’s simplicity . Furthermore some people don’t care whether the NSA or Apple have a record of their fingerprint because they’re not afraid of anything as they don’t do anything illegal.

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I read this joke once.
Guy 1: How can you tell which one of your friends has the new gold iPhone 5s?
Guy 2: Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.
I found it true to the highest extent because nearly everyone I know who has an iPhone 5s can’t resist not showing that they got one and this just shows how much people find the iPhone 5s fancy.

Did Apple admit to giving the NSA and FBI their database?

Apple representatives have always gave us a vague response about whether they share our private information with the NSA and FBI or not. After looking into this situation and trying to understand if they do or not. I found an article which stated that the District Manager of Apple’s North America Marketing Department admitted that the fingerprint idea was originated from someone in the Government. He stated that Apple does provide NSA and FBI with their database and also that NSA and FBI have been compiling a special database for more than a year now to use with the new Apple technology. Furthermore that it would make their job more efficient as it will be easier to locate fugitives and missing people as well.

Finally to sum things up I don’t think people will never know whether Apple does actually give out our information and invades our privacy or not, its up to each persons opinion and either they care or not. If not then they have an amazing phone but if they do mind they shouldn’t risk getting it. It’s all up to each persons judgement.

Hope you enjoyed my blog,

Andrew Yacoub.

“MEDIA” To Believe Or Not To Believe?

“Did you hear about the latest shootings in the US?”

“Yes! They said so and so was behind it.”

“That’s what the government wants you to think!”

First, they tell you their version of a story. Then they somehow have visual evidence. Then you believe. Five minutes later, you change the channel and it’s the same news, except the opinion about it is the complete opposite but the visual evidence is also there!

Media, with invisible fingers controlling it like a puppet, has in one way or another modified your views about a certain issue. Yes I’m talking about you! Whether it’s through news, through music, advertisements, speeches, talk shows, drama shows, and other TV programmes you’ll always find a finger extended from the TV and modifying the wiring in your brain.

Find that hard to believe?

Take a look at my country, Egypt, especially in the last three years. Before the revolution back in January 2011, all the talk shows on TV had a similar view that was largely anti-revolution, until the protests succeeded in mid-Feb and the ex-president Mubarak stepped down. Months later, with a new Islamic president Morsi in power, Islamic channels started emerging and were greatly involved in political discussions. As private-run media were owned by people of different political views this was highly reflected on the shows broadcasted on the channel and the political views portrayed by its staff. After the military deposed Morsi, the constitution was modified and a referendum was carried out. The words “Yes for the constitution” were almost on all the channels and on huge billboards in the streets, and of course Islamist channels were closed down. The constitution had a 98.1% approval result.

Too specific an example?

Let’s take a look at music. Mainstream songs these days have lyrics that are very suggestive of sexual themes, and promote the love of money and fame and valuable possessions (cars? Gold?). Pop culture idols can do whatever the hell they want and, being idols for many, will have many imitate them. Baggy pants, loose shirts, chains; well if these weren’t introduced by idols in the music or sport industries, they probably wouldn’t have made their ways into the people’s wardrobes! Same goes with girls and the evolution of fashion with time. I believe that this evolution had less to do with feminism and boosting self-confidence but more with what the media displays as the society standard/more acceptable form of clothing at that particular period. This is merely an opinion and I may be mistaken.

How about movies?

Same thing again, whatever the media chooses to display as appropriate will be available, and whatever does not comply with the standards producers shouldn’t waste their time on.

Most forms of media have somehow been tampered with, maybe not directly (authorities like to show that complete freedom is a right) but still tampered with; from newspapers to TV ads.

When you watch something on TV, you’re not necessarily watching a programme, but a programmer.

But why?

Well, it plays to serve the authorities I guess. What gets the people is what the media emphasizes on, since the media is your only source of news at home and on the go, right? Who else would benefit from modifying the people’s thinking?

Are there any alternatives?

Well, the most accurate would be is to think about everything you watch, try not to let what you watch affect you and keep this in mind while watching any news channel or TV shows or ads. Keep in mind that they might not all be true and maybe then and only then you’ll realise how corrupt the media is.

media lie

Do they actually make up some of the news? 

Well in my opinion I believe they do make up a lot of the things that they say and claim to be true, but mostly things that people don’t care about or wouldn’t put the effort to see whether what they just said was true or not. I also believe this to be true because what else could news channels report everyday there can’t always be news to report so I see it more as entertainment channels not news channels.

Playing call of duty encourages people to kill? Seriously? 

Hey, this murderer was known to eat cereal in the morning. Many murders this year were committed by people who also enjoyed cereal. Cereal should be banned! This is exactly what they’re saying but after twisting the words to make it sound convincing. That’s pretty much the sort of reasoning that’s going on here. But the reason they all ate cereal is because a ton of people eat cereal. The reason many murderers played Call of Duty is because a lot of people play Call of Duty. It’s statistically likely.

no cereal

SAY NO TO CEREALS. Its really funny how news channels have a huge role in our lives when honestly they shouldn’t at all because it should be our decision whether to for example vote yes or no, instead of turning on the TV and switching between channels to find them pushing the voters to favour what they want and affect our decision psychologically.

So in the end the question remains do you believe the media or not?

Hope you enjoyed my blog,

Andrew Yacoub