It has been 20 years since the internet was born. No longer is it an 8-bit toddler running off dial-up and throwing glitchy tantrums every 10 minutes! The World Wide Web now, is a mature and responsible teenager with years of knowledge, wisdom and an “anything is possible” kind of attitude towards everyday life. It might not be old enough to drink, vote, or play casino games online just yet, but it’s certainly on its way to adulthood – and in the next few years, we’re bound to see it flourish and evolve even more. In the meantime, here is a list of the top 10 indispensable ways we have used our beloved internet over the last two decades:
#1 – Entertainment
Although the internet has many different uses, when you consider that the user demographic features all age groups and people from all different cultures and backgrounds – entertainment is probably its most common use. After all, the web is an infinite hub and archive for things like games, movies, books and music; the top forms of everyday entertainment used by people all over the world. Instead of heading to your local music or video store, you can now stream all of your favorite albums online through platforms such as Spotify, entirely for free. Music stores like ITunes also allows you to download songs straight to your library in seconds, while Netflix has people glued to their sofas in 3-day Game of Thrones marathons. Heck, even casinos and gambling sites are some of the main pivots for online entertainment in this age – which is why we naturally had to put this at the no. 1 spot!
#2 – Socializing
Social media has taken the world by absolute storm since it first emerged on the web. Although platforms such as MySpace came to an end quite quickly, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, and collectively, social media generated approximately $51.3 billion in revenue last year; set to increase by 10.5% per annum. Not only has it become a method of keeping in touch with friends and family and being able to showcase your life and interests online, it also acts as a gateway into the lives of celebrities, the latest trends, industry insights, what’s going on in other countries, and serves as one of the most cost effective sales funnels for businesses to promote their products and services. It’s even possible to gamble through social media applications and VR nowadays, but most of the winnings are in the form of gold coins, and non-monetary prizes.
#3 – Communication
Of course social media is one of the main uses for communication in this era; however, what we’re really talking about with this one is a means of communicating through things like email, live chat, video conferencing, chat rooms, forums, e-cards, voice calls etc. These days the internet allows anyone with a good connection to communicate and share information with any other entity in the world. This is great for people who travel frequently and spend a lot of time away from their loved ones.
It also allows businesses from different countries to close trading deals without having to splash out on flights and accommodation in order to meet them in person. This innovative way of being able to communicate and socialize is a true blessing for most people, but it has also led to a society which would rather text than speak on the phone or endure any face-to-face contact. The latter could be deemed as a bit of a curse.
#4 – Research
Thanks to the internet, you can now access hundreds of different blogs, articles, manuscripts, and other sources of information to help you learn, grow, and advance your skills in practically any industry or hobby. Rather than spending hours sifting through brochures, textbooks and catalogues, you can now easily and conveniently find specific facts, statistics and other information at the click of a button. This is an extremely powerful tool for people like students and journalists, and anyone who needs to discover a bit more about a certain topic. Sites like Wikipedia are the Holy Grail when it comes to research and references. Then you have comparison sites like TripAdvisor for reviewing holidays, restaurants, excursions, hotel rooms and so much more. There’s loads of sites which can be equally as informative; however, they are not always reliable sources and should be fully verified before you take any of the information too literally!
#5 – Education
Most people reading this probably never even had access to the internet when they were at school, because it wasn’t even invented until 1983. Fortunately for millennials and the younger generation, the web has become a primary resource in providing new and innovative ways to teach our kids, and plays a big part in the overall curriculum. But, it’s not just schools, colleges and universities who benefit from the educational value that the internet brings; you can find endless articles, masterclasses and tutorials for learning about a specific trade or industry. Even developers have been able to learn the basics of coding simply through the information and courses available online! Again, not everything you discover will be 100% factual, which is why it’s always worth doing your research and checking out multiple, fully-verified websites when you are looking to learn something new.
#6 – News
We’ve had newspapers and TVs to tell us what’s been going on in the world for decades now, but these days the biggest news and media outlets need to get the hottest stories out as fast as possible and also get ahead of their competitors. The time it takes to print thousands of copies of an article and the wait to have a story broadcasted on TV just makes this process much slower. But now, you’re able to get the lowdown on events and situations in various parts of the world within minutes of them happening.
The onslaught of instant news access has signaled the end of many forms of print media like magazines and newspapers. Of course, the traditional methods of distributing these stories will probably remain for a number of years, but as technology advances, so will the ways in which we can expect to be fed news and propaganda. Who knows? Maybe in 10 years’ time, you’ll get your daily news report through a personalized hologram or AI!
#7 – Shopping
Some people love to shop, others absolutely detest it. But thanks to the internet, you can now do ALL of your shopping online, whether it be clothes, food, electronics, home supplies – even people and animals can be ordered from the web! One of the biggest advantages of this is the fact that you can place orders for items and goods 24/7, and you do not need to wait in any long queues, or weave in and out between people inside a busy shop floor.
Another benefit to shopping online is that many items are actually listed with cheaper price tags. Online sellers can offer the same product at a cheaper rate because they have no physical showrooms full of employees and products—they all ship through a central hub. The only downside to shopping online is not having your order with you instantly and having to wait for deliveries. That being said, big brands like AmazonGo could soon change that.
#8 – Job Searching
We’ve probably all spent time trawling job sites in hope of greener pastures. As tedious of a task this may seem, at one point you would only have newspaper listings to show you available vacancies, or you would have to physically enter the company premises in order to find out whether they had any positions going. Now the process of searching and applying for jobs is like duck soup – all you have to do is register with a few sites, upload your CV and a cover letter template, and wait for the offers to roll in! This saves so much time and takes much of the stress out of having to look and apply for jobs manually like the golden, olden days. The only part it doesn’t help with is the interviews and hiring process. But fortunately, you can research various tips and tricks for nabbing your dream job in the ocean of articles and blogs available online. Thank you again internet!
#9 – Maps
Since Google Earth was launched in 2004, being able to virtually explore every corner of the world has served as one of mankind’s most valuable assets. This doesn’t just apply to Google either. Without the geographical logistics of the internet, things like GPS would not have been invented and we would all still rely on a paper atlas to get us from A to B. Online maps means we can pull up directions to somewhere in seconds, and also finds the exact route in which to get there with specific train lines and bus numbers, live traffic updates and even recommendations on places to eat, drink and sleep in the area of the destination we are heading to. The invention of map apps also means that we can make some serious life decisions without hesitation. Say you were looking to buy a house; you travel halfway across the county to go see it, only to discover it’s an absolute dump – but not anymore! Instead, you can check it out on Google Street View first, get a feel for its surroundings, the transport system, and how long it takes to get to certain places – no more dodgy cowboy real estate people to trip you up, all thanks to the power of maps!
#10 – Dating
We’ve had blind dating, speed dating and now the latest craze: internet dating! Surprisingly enough, 1 in 5 relationships and 1 in 6 marriages begin online according to 2019 figures released by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Sites like Tinder, Grindr and Match.com, have shot the cupid arrow into many couples; helping them find their sweethearts at the click of a button or a swipe of a finger. For many people, this is a saving grace because it allows you to filter out the rights from the wrongs, and get to know someone a bit better before jumping into bed with them or enduring some awkward first dates. There are also many other benefits online dating has provided since it hit the mainstream – general people and social skills have improved, and it’s also allowed individuals to expand their social circles, even if they don’t end up in a relationship with them. This is how an ordinary internet connection helps people to make real connections – even if they are miles and miles apart!
So there you have it: 10 things human beings use the internet for other than gambling. At times it may seem like we are a species who have become conditioned and obsessed with the online world. But when you break it down and discover the differences it has made to everyday life, it’s hard not to appreciate this period of technological breakthrough in the 21st century. Deep down, we’re glad we are around right now to experience it and its infinite future of possibilities.