The internet is now officially a meeting place. The pandemic has precipitated a phenomenon that first began in the mid-1980s to 1990s. Web 1.0, which now seems crude and basic to modern eyes, was a revolutionary period in the history of the internet.

The early users and adopters of Web 1.0 were pioneers. They created the conditions which led to the evolution of the World Wide Web. While they were few in number, they piloted the dawn for a later generation of tech savvy beings who could not imagine a world without the internet. During the years of Web 1.0, HTML was the backbone of the internet and was the code that functioned as the lingua franca of the internet. The WWW, on the other hand, operated more as an information portal for blogs, chatrooms and email.

It was the first iteration of what became a growing, evolving medium that eventually expanded into a platform with profound multi-functional uses. In the early days of its adoption, however, it was not clear or even foreseeable that one day the world would come to rely on this technological movement to deliver our daily groceries. The changes that have occurred to the way that we both consume and communicate through these technological innovations have given rise to ‘new’ forms of mass communication and consumerism.

A World of Too Many Voices

A plurality of voices is both a boon and a bane. Though pluralism has given the formerly silenced a much-needed voice, it has also allowed for hate speech to proliferate, leading to a mass collective culture that is simultaneously desensitised and outraged.

While it has made it easier and faster for individuals, businesses and organisations to transact and interact with one another, it has also drowned out the voice of reason that would implore our conscious to think twice before we act. In the absence of real life community sanctions, anonymity and a lack of accountability has left a digital footprint that is difficult to trace.

The oversimplification of the user experience has had the effect of adding excessive layers of complexity to the technological underpinnings of mass communication. While it has seemingly revolutionised the method of information transfer and dissemination, it has also created innumerable challenges in its wake. While many claim that the speed of communication has hastened greatly in comparison to prior periods, the amount of noise floating around in cyberspace has, in actuality, increased the search time and cost; making it more difficult to find the optimum solution.

The empowerment of the individual, community and collective through the various forms of user-generated content has also created a society where many long for the elusive and increasingly evasive human interaction. The exuberance and exhilaration with which technological advancements are applauded has led us to ignore, dismiss and gloss over many potential downsides.

The fact that traditional enterprises have huge and high barriers to entry–for both employees and consumers–has only expedited the conversation rate to tech-based ‘alternatives’ that quickly morph into mainstream traditional businesses. It goes without saying that we need to start thinking more deeply about the intended and unintended repercussions of this powerful tool that we have at our fingertips.

The social and psychological impact of ‘the empowered user’ is still unknown. New laws are required to address privacy and anonymity concerns and this issue has been on the forefront of policymakers minds across the globe well before the pandemic occurred. The fall out that will ensue from this level of internet evolution remains incalculable. We can neither reverse nor prepare for this global trend.

The extra-jurisdictional developments in relation to some of the issues that will arise will require a multifaceted approach. When it comes to the internet, local and global blurred a long time ago and will continue to blur as we become even more reliant on these technologies that we do not understand.

The emergence of electronic engagement among humans has changed both the human mind and society, especially during the pandemic. While many questions are raised on the issue of online censorship, privacy and copyright; we at The Sanatan Chronicle are mainly curious about the impact that this period of history will have on the evolution of the human species.

Is this normal? Is this the new normal? Or perhaps what we had before this wasn’t normal.

And maybe, normal never existed at all.

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